the Wednesday Appreciation Society...

somewhere in the history of Time, the Days assembled to decide how they would organize the Week.  being the natural leaders of the bunch, Sunday and Saturday established themselves at the beginning and ending of the Week.  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday jumped at the chance to be as close to these two as possible, and soon all that was left was Wednesday.  with nowhere else to go, Wednesday was assigned the position equidistant (with the emphasis on distant) from the superstars... dooming it to an eternity as the most under-appreciated of all the Days.

pitiable attempt at storytelling aside, Wednesday always feel like the most despised of days, and that carries over to the way we eat.  halfway between the feast of a Sunday family dinner and Saturday night's dining out, a Wednesday dinner often consists of anything that's promised to be delivered in 30 minutes or less.  fortunately, Wednesday is held in high esteem around here.  when i founded the Wednesday Watercolor Society in the summer of 2010, we had just two rules: never give in to the intimidation of the medium, and never meet on Wednesday.  it is the most sacred of days.  in honor of this high-holy day, i've prepared a meal that makes me wish every day was Wednesday.

apple-herb infused smoked ham and mac-and-cheese with veggies in disguise

sauteed mushrooms in béchamel and white cheddar sauce.
this was actually inspired by my great-Aunt Yvonne who taught me to make béchamel many years ago.  what followed was a pivotal moment in my burgeoning food life.  up until then, sauce was either the brown stuff served with curries or stews, or the red stuff poured over mounds of pasta.  this freakish new creation was served atop slices of fresh-baked ham.  i was fully prepared to hate it, but by halfway through the first bite, i was hooked.  the rest is creamy, delicious history.

steamy scoobi-doo pasta with blanched veggies await saucing
today's meal... nay... today's feast... is an homage to that awakening.  béchamel has become the basis for the sauce that holds my mac-and-cheese together.  this version is in itself a stand-alone meal, featuring sauteed onions and mushrooms along with cauliflower and green sweet peas all in a creamy, white cheddar sauce. not being a fan of hams drowned in sweet glazes, i went the savory route, adding fresh rosemary (from my window herb box) and thyme, whole cloves, and a few smashed, whole cloves of fresh garlic to the roasting pan, along with a healthy splash of apple juice.  the pan was sealed tightly with foil in order to preserve maximum moistness.  the ham was roasted skin-down for the first half of the cooking time, then carefully turned over, resealed, and returned to the oven for the remaining time.

handful of fresh herbs tucked in around the edges of the roasting pan

i dispensed with the customary diamond pattern carved into the skin.  it is a giant piece of salty, smoky meat. trust me... it knows it looks good without the adornment.  there will be many sandwiches, omelettes, and maybe even a lucky quiche stuffed with leftover ham in the coming days, and the bone will add immense flavor to a split pea soup.  i will save that one for some far less important Day... maybe even Sunday.

three hours later.

oh, and i'm eating pomegranates for a good cause.  they will feature heavily in a project i plan to undertake later this week.  not the seeds, just the stuff that normally ends up in the trash... but that's a tale for some other Day.

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