As I’ve mentioned here before, I generally plan our meals for the week in advance, sketching out which meal I want to serve on which night, but leaving a little wiggle room in case we need to switch things up. I had a porktastic duo scheduled for last night, utilizing some of the leftover roast pork I made over the weekend, as well as some delicious baked ham from a previous meal, which I had pulled from the freezer and thawed. I’m not kidding you when I say I was excited for this dinner – I thought about it all day and my mouth was watering. I Could. Not. Wait.
So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I got home from work, headed into the kitchen, flung open the refrigerator door to get started and realized that at some point over the last few days, I had put the remaining pork roast into the freezer.
Say it with me, people: “GAAAAAAH!”
My beautiful leftover roast pork was solid as a rock, and with no good way to defrost it quickly, the dinner I had been craving all day would have to wait. And I needed to come up with a Plan B, fast.
We didn’t have anything else thawed that I could prepare instead. I didn’t want to do yet another risotto. I’ve got a pasta dish scheduled for tonight, and while Mike and I both love the stuff, having pasta two nights in a row wasn’t really appealing to us. The takeout options in our little corner of Bushwick aren’t great, and to go out to eat would require us to get on a bus or train for 20 minutes or more. It was late, I was tired, and I just didn’t want to deal with it.
Mike mixed us each a Jack Rose and we sat and thought about what to do. We had enough ham that I could use some of it tonight and still have enough left over for future use. We had potatoes. We had plenty of dairy – butter and cream, and we’ve always got cheese. Why not make a gratin?
I pulled out my deep baking dish, buttered it, set the oven temp to 400, and started chopping, ending up with about 2 cups of ham, cut into about 1/2 inch cubes, and about 4 cups of small Yukon Golds, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds. I placed one layer of potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish, sprinkled the ham on top, and then scattered about a cup of grated gruyere over that. I topped it with a layer of the remaining potato slices. I whisked together 12 oz. of half and half, 1/2 cup of crème fraiche, salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of Colman’s mustard powder, added a cup of little green peas I had blanched and frozen over the summer, and poured it over the potatoes and ham. I sealed the baking dish with foil, and put it in the oven for 40 minutes, then pulled it out, removed the foil, added another layer of grated gruyere, some grated parmesan and fresh thyme, and placed it back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the top was golden and bubbly.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, and I have to say the next time I make a gratin I will take the extra step of making an actual Mornay sauce for it, but despite the rather “broken” cream sauce I ended up with here and the fact that it’s not the prettiest thing I’ve made, our dinner was a tasty, filling, and satisfying meal – not at all bad for a last minute substitution.