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In my life, I can think of no greater love affair in which I have engaged more willingly than with ham. Those that know me may offer stout rebuttal, and claim my affinity for bacon to be the clear winner in my food affairs. But, I think when the pork hits the plate, deep in the recesses of my gastroemotional being, I give my hand to ham.
So, naturally, I baked a ham for Christmas. At the time of this posting, that was over 15 days ago. And in that time, ham and I have grown quite distant. It was constantly hanging around, nagging me from the fridge, with all its talk of “What? Chicken? Tonight? Am I not good enough for you now? Tired of the old leftovers, are you? Looking for some younger, fresher meat to chew on?” After all, there’s only so much ham and eggs the kids could stand. But, I was determined to move on… to close the chapter on this swine drama. What better way to use up some leftover protein, and show it some love, than to put it in a savory stew and let it simmer to hog heaven?
And in so doing, I created my Paleo Island Stew with Sundried Tomatoes and Roasted Pineapple. With flavors reminiscent of the islands, this is a delicious, hearty bowl of ham and veggies in a robust tomato base, topped with roasted pineapple chunks and avocado.
What you’ll need:
• 4-5 strips bacon, rough chopped
• 2-3 carrots, diced
• 2 shallots, minced
• 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, rough chopped
• 2 tbsp dried Italian or pizza seasoning (or oregano and basil)
• 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
• 2-3 cups chicken stock
• about 2 cups leftover ham, chopped
• 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
• Fresh pineapple chunks
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste (Careful here. Pork is naturally salty. The bacon and ham should offer you more than enough salt for seasoning.)
What you’ll do:
Render off chopped bacon in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, shallots, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Stir to coat in bacon fat. Add Italian seasoning, stirring veggies until just tender. Add white wine (if you have it, if not, it’s no skin off a pig’s back) and simmer, cooking off alcohol. Add your ham and two cups of the chicken stock. Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring it all to a bubble.
Cover and simmer on low. Meanwhile, heat up your oven’s broiler. Coat the pineapple chunks in olive oil and place on baking sheet. Broil until toasted and caramelization appears.
Serve stew over hot pineapple with avocado on top.
Top with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, if you’ve got it.
This really worked out nicely for everyone. The kids ate three bowls a piece, the ham got some love, and, mercifully, I got shed of my leftovers.
As for me and ham… we’re on a break.