Before we could start appreciating ham steak as an ingredient in our cooking, we had to first get over childhood memories of thick slabs of oddly pink meat with dry, curling edges plonked directly from the frying pan onto our plate. Shudder. Luckily, quick dinners aren't all that ham steaks are good for...
A ham steak is really just a slice of ham from a whole ham roast. While a whole ham costs less per-pound than a ham steak, we don't usually need a whole ham so buying the smaller steak cut ends up being more cost-effective for us. If you find them on sale and want to stock up, they are also very convenient to freeze and take very little time to thaw.
Like bacon and salt pork, just a little ham can add a lot of flavor to a dish. It infuses dishes with a sweet, smoky flavor that we find more subtle than other pork products. Typically, we cut the ham steak into cubes and throw it into frittatas, soups, and casseroles.
One thing to be aware of is that ham steaks are usually not pre-cooked. If you're planning on using it in a cold preparation, be sure to cook it quickly before adding it in. Cubed ham will cook through in just a minute or two, and a whole steak will only take a little longer.
Do you cook with ham steaks?
Related: Sense of Place: Southern Flavors and Ingredients
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)