Ham & cheese & bread: what (else) to do with the Easter ham

img_7133

What IS it about hot, melty cheese, anyway? I mean, you see a picture like this, and you NEED THAT PLATE IN FRONT OF YOU RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

From Gruyère Stuffed Crusty Loaves and Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese to Sausage Cheese Biscuits and the meltiest cheese dish of them all – Cheese Fondue – some of the most popular recipes on this site feature hot melted cheese.

All involve cheese that goes into the oven (or onto the stovetop) solid and stolid; and comes out a glorious, lava-like, aromatic mass of pure oozing cheesiness. Cheddar, Jack, Swiss, mozzarella… doesn’t really matter what kind, does it? So long as it’s warm and soft and on your plate.

With Easter here, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do with the leftover ham. Admit it – while you may not bite off more than you can chew, you probably choose a bigger ham (it’s on sale!) than what you and your family can reasonably consume at one sitting.

And, since it’s virtually impossible to think “ham” and not immediately follow it with “and cheese,” it’s inevitable that cheese has to be part of the leftover ham plan.

Ham and cheese sandwiches are a given, plain or grilled. But then what?

Ham and cheese casserole, of course. And this comforting version, instead of the usual ham/pasta pairing, features bread and milk and eggs with ham and cheese to make a dish that’s pillowy soft, custard-y, cheese-y, ham-studded and, for a final glorious touch, crunchy on top, thanks to buttered Panko bread crumbs.

img_7044.JPG

Here’s where we start: bread. Choose whatever bread you find tastiest; this happens to be our Classic White Bread, which pairs wonderfully with ham and cheese.

Whole wheat bread? Sure. Rye? Absolutely; think ham and cheese on rye. Orange brioche? Hmmm…

img_7089.JPG

Panko are coarse, light-and-crunchy bread crumbs, not at all like the sawdust-in-a-can that masquerades as “bread crumbs” on the supermarket shelf.

If you don’t have Panko, please use your own homemade crumbs. Don’t have a supply of homemade bread crumbs? Make some: simply crush (or process) stale bread into crumbs, and store them in the freezer for occasions such as this.

img_7051.JPG

Next, the cheese. I love extra-sharp cheddar. But again, choose your own favorite. Ham and Swiss? Works for me.

img_4894.JPG

Finally, if you choose a less assertive cheese (read: the aforementioned Swiss), you might want to beef up the general cheesiness of the casserole with a hit of our Vermont cheese powder.

OK, let’s dive in. Lightly grease a small (6- to 8-cup) casserole dish, for nicest presentation; or a 9” x 9” square pan.

img_7047.JPG

Cut 6 slices (8 ounces) bread into small (1/2” to 3/4” cubes).

img_7048.JPG

You’ll have about 6 1/2 to 7 cups.

img_7052.JPG

Layer half the bread in the casserole. Spread 1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) diced ham over the bread.

img_7055.JPG

Sprinkle 2 cups (8 ounces) cheese over the ham.

img_7056.JPG

Top with the remaining bread.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:

5 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon prepared mustard of 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 cup Vermont cheese powder, optional

img_7057.JPG

Pour over the bread and ham in the dish…

img_7059.JPG

…pushing the bread down into the milk.

Cover the dish, and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator.

img_7090.JPG

Combine 1 cup Panko bread crumbs (or coarse, dry bread crumbs) and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

img_7095.JPG

Sprinkle evenly atop the casserole.

img_7096.JPG

Bake the casserole for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

img_7115.JPG

Remove the casserole from the oven.

img_7119

Serve hot, or warm.

img_7118.JPG

Creamy melted cheese, soft bread, crunchy, butter bread crumbs… what a delicious way to make a dent in that leftover Easter ham!

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Easter Monday Ham and Cheese Bake.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Marianna

    I have been wrestling with what I want to serve for Easter dinner this year. This settles it-definitely HAM!!

    Reply
  2. Gin

    Crumbs made from the no-knead sourdough recipe you had here back in December are as good as Panko, maybe better. Bet they’d be super on this.

    Reply
  3. Tinky

    I’m sorry–maybe it’s just reading on the web, but I can’t figure out how much ham you wanted us to use? Just whatever we have left over, or is there an amount I’m missing? Sorry! I love strata, so I should think I’d love this, too…….
    Add 1 3/4 cups of ham to this recipe. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  4. KarenElhyam

    Yum! This looks delicious. I might have to hunt down some ham just to make this, actually. I think I’d also need to include some broccoli, because what’s better than cheese and broccoli. Thanks for the recipe, as always!

    Reply
  5. Tonia

    You’re right: gimme that plate of scrumptiousness RIGHT NOW!!! I can see this in my future very, very soon! Thanks once again for a fantastic recipe idea ;-)

    Reply
  6. AJ

    The Vermont Cheese Powder intrigues me…sounds like something we should have around. The packages lists at 8 Oz. How many cups/Tbs/
    whatever does that equal? Sounds like a picky question, I know, but we’re
    on a tight budget for a while and like to know how far we can go with this.
    We all LOVE cheese around here! We are SO not waiting for Easter for this
    dish!
    This is about 1 1/3 cups of powder. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  7. Hazel

    I have had a very similar recipe for many years, and it is really delicious. Everyone should try it. Excellent for leftover ham.

    Reply
  8. Rick

    Recipe is clear about when to add the ham and how much but the “see how its done” never tells what to do with the other half of the ham. There is a typo. You should add all the ham at the same time. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  9. Hazel

    Rick, I think we need to just disregard the “see how its done” and go by the actual recipe which just says “layer ham over bread” Yes add all the ham at one time. Joan @KAF

    Reply
  10. LP

    It says to layer half of the ham on top of the bottom layer of bread, but where does the rest go? And how much ham and cheese does the recipe call for?
    Am I just missing part of this because of the formatting, or is this recipe incomplete?
    It’s a good thing this is not for tonight’s dinner!

    Sorry about that – the recipe was correct and had all the details, but I inadvertently said “half the ham” instead of ALL the ham in the blog… I’ve also added in those missing amounts. You’re right, I really blew it! Luckily everything was in the recipe for me to go find it. PJH

    Reply
  11. Tinky

    Sorry! I didn’t see that the actual recipe was on a separate page and was trying to get all the information from this page. I caught on… belatedly! Thanks, Joan, for typing it into my comment. I do find the dual pages a little confusing, but I’ll get used to them…..

    Reply
  12. Joni M

    Yumm, this looks wonderful! I’m also in agreement re using sourdough crumbs–last time I made the extra sour loaf I purposefully hid the last of the loaf and made buttered crumbs–and then froze what I didn’t use; I know they’d be delightful topping this recipe! Wow, another GREAT menu idea! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    Reply
  13. judy

    We’re lucky enough to have a Heavenly Ham store nearby and their ham is the best we’ve ever tasted. They sell slices of their ham by the pound so we won’t have to wait till Easter to try this recipe. Sounds delish.
    What’s that quack quack? Oh, it’s YOU you LUCKY DUCK!!! We are officially jealous here in the kitchen. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. Lenora

    I made this last night and it did not come out creamy at all. It baked up firm like an omelet. Any suggestions on why this happened would be helpful.

    Perhaps your bread was REALLY dry and soaked up all the liquid? Did you use large eggs, or a different size (extra-large, jumbo)? Perhaps you overbaked it a bit? Those would be the possible causes I can think of… PJH

    Reply
  15. Cammie

    MMMmmm, I can’t wait to make this! And I love the Vermont Cheddar powder, it makes the best quick mac and cheese, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
  16. diane

    this is chilling for dinner. i used raisin paska bread and a mix of sharp cheddar and swiss. can’t wait!

    Reply
  17. Nadine

    This sounds like an awesome holiday breakfast – I make something similar for Christmas – please make this easily searchable in your archives so I can find it next Christmas! I know I’ll be looking for it!!

    Reply
  18. cbarber15

    What a fabulous idea for leftovers! It looks delicious and easy too…which is key after putting more time and effort into a big Easter dinner. :) Thanks for the tasty idea!

    Enjoy! It’s REALLY tasty… PJH

    Reply
  19. "sandra Alicante"

    There is something about cooked cheese that is irresistible! Add ham or bacon into it and that’s it, gone, instantly. Two of my favourite recipes with cheese are cheese topped bread rolls and a bacon,leek and potato pie. Mmmmm.

    sandrascookbook.com

    Sandra, the bacon-leek-potato pie sounds fabulous – wish I had a slice right now, even full as I am from Easter dinner… :) PJH

    Reply
  20. MattieO

    I made this tonight with leftover smoked ham with white cheddar cheese, and it was terrific! I’m sure it would work great putting it together the night before, but it also works very well being made at the last minute and thrown into the oven. Wonderful texture and puffs up nicely in the oven. Next time I will add some sauteed mushrooms and/or onions, as well as try different cheese mixtures. Thanks for a great recipe!

    And thanks for sharing your enthusiasm here, Mattie. Mushrooms and onions sound like a tasty addition! PJH

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *