This year, Christmas dinner had its challenges. With lockdown in place for many of us, we faced a different holiday meal, one without the shared comfort and joy of extended family and friends.
Not terribly hungry, I ended up roasting a supply of vegetables: brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes. When ready I topped it with sliced ham, a mustard glaze and baked until bubbly. It got the job done—without much flash or flare. My heart really wasn’t in it.
Holidays meals often translate to future soups, stews and snacks. The uninspired leftovers lingered in the fridge for a couple of days before I considered what to do with them. I mulled over the possibilities: soup and such just didn’t seem to fit here. Then I recalled a delicious dish that would create a cohesive meal out of all this with little effort on my part.
In a 2014 blog I described the Chicken Puff Pie as a throwback to the “pot pie—without the pie crust”. At the time I was deeply into crepes, clafoutis, and custard-based dishes and this evolved from that process. The surprising dish yielded a nutritious, creamy, and satisfying meal without all the work.
I’ve since learned that just about any leftover vegetables and complementary protein will work. Refresh them in a quick sauté with onion and herbs. A thin crepe-like batter is poured overall, suspending the collection into something similar to a savory clafoutis.
Bake the dish for 30 minutes in a hot oven until light and puffed. Cool briefly and slice into neat wedges.
True comfort food that does not taste like leftovers and reheats beautifully…
Most complementary precooked vegetables and protein can be substituted here.
1 Tbsp butter, plus butter for baking dish
½ medium onion, peeled, small chop
1 clove garlic, divided, crushed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
1 tsp dried herbs: thyme, rosemary, sage
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup precooked brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 cup precooked carrots, small chunks
1 cup precooked potatoes, small chunks
1 cup or more ham cut into small chunks
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs, beaten
⅔ cup warm milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
few grinds fresh pepper
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
For top: 2 Tbsp Gruyere cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a quiche dish, pie plate or similar baking dish.
- In large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, cook to soften. Add the garlic, jalapeno if desired, herbs, salt and pepper, cook 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in precooked vegetables. Add the ham and cook 3-4 minutes to heat and blend flavors.
- Make the batter: In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the beaten eggs and begin incorporate the flour; whisk in the milk, the garlic, and a few grinds of pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese to form a thin, nearly smooth batter.
- Spread enough batter into the baking dish to coat the bottom, about ½ cup. Place in the hot oven and bake until the bottom is set, 4 minutes.
- Evenly distribute the ham and vegetables mixture over the layer of batter in the baking dish. Stir down the remaining batter and pour it evenly over the filling. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese over the top and return the dish to oven.
- Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake 35 to 40 minutes longer. It is done when puffed and browned around edges and the center is firm when pressed. Yield: 4 or more servings