Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice

This has been a week of leftovers. I prepared a spiral-sliced ham for Easter dinner and was faced with the challenge of what to do with all that leftover meat. If you google “recipes for leftover ham”, you get about three hundred thousand results. There are many “top ten” lists that include the usual suggestions: ham sandwiches, ham and scalloped potatoes, split pea or bean soups, casseroles, pasta with ham, frittatas, and on and on. First of all, I am not a fan of leftovers. My style of cooking is to prepare what can be comfortably consumed at one sitting and start fresh the next day. But a large roast necessitates a different approach.  Tuesday I carved all the meat from the ham bone and set about preparing soup. I wasn’t in the mood for a bean or pea soup; it just seemed too wintery. I simmered collard greens, kale, and garlic with the ham bone until the greens were meltingly tender. Then I scooped the greens from the pot and cooked cornmeal dumplings in the ham broth. I served the greens and additional diced ham with the broth and dumplings. It was really good; not heavy, and very satisfying. The next leftover ham dish was ham and pineapple fried rice. This dish is very easy and lends itself to improvisation. My recipe is just a guideline of sorts, you can personalize it with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Tonight I will make a Hawaiian pizza, and that will be the end of “leftover ham week”. But the next time I want ham for a recipe, I need look no further than my own freezer.

Ham and Pineapple Fried Rice

3 cups leftover, cold rice ( freshly cooked rice just doesn’t work as well)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, minced
a 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup peas ( frozen peas work fine, just rinse with hot water before adding to the skillet)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, a portion of the green tops reserved for garnish
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
a drizzle of sesame oil
coarsely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

In a large preferably non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the minced ginger and cook until fragrant. Toss in the red pepper and let it soften a bit, then add the ham, scallions, and the rice. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Stir-fry everything together until it’s well mixed. Now push the mixture to the far edge of the pan, and add the beaten eggs (add a little more oil if the pan seems dry). Scramble the eggs quickly and then incorporate them into the rice mixture.

Fold in the peas and the pineapple, and adjust the seasoning with additional soy sauce, if desired, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve immediately, sprinkled with scallion greens and chopped cilantro.

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