For almost the past two years, I've been laboring under a false, tragic assumption. Somehow, I decided that Kristin doesn't like ham. Ham! She loves bacon, she enjoys pork - I don't know why I thought she wouldn't like ham. As a result, I always refrained from making this dish. It ends up Kristin is a big ham fan, and I'm a big dummy. Oops. The good news is I got a chance to make mom's Ham and Broccoli Pasta again!
This is another adaptation of a childhood favorite. I don't think there's much like it out there in the world. Ham and pasta don't often appear together in one dish, let alone covered in a mustard sauce, but this is so, so good. It could be done with chicken, I suppose, but that's just not The Way Mom Did It. And that way is what's worth reproducing.
It's a pretty simple set of ingredients. The basics are thick-cut ham, broccoli, and pasta. The rest goes into the herbed mustard-butter that holds it all together: butter, garlic, shallots, mustard, salt, pepper, and herbs. I used a lovely blend from Chicago's "Spice House" composed of tarragon, chervil, basil, dill, chives, and white pepper. Any or all of those would do nicely. My shallots also came from Spice House in freeze-dried form - they're also quite nice to have on hand, as they reconstitute in water in 10 minutes.
First, chop the broccoli into bite-sized florettes.
Funny story: I lost my steamer. Who loses a steamer? This guy. I ended up boiling my poor broccoli after searching for that steamer for a good 15 minutes. Kristin promptly found it for me in about 10 seconds of searching after I told her what happened. Oops.
Assuming you haven't also lost your steamer, you should steam your broccoli. Boiling works in a pinch.
Speaking of boiling - boil some water and cook your pasta.
While the broccoli is steaming and the pasta is cooking, chop your ham down into bite-sized pieces, then set it aside. Covering it in tiny pieces of broccoli is optional.
Soften the butter, then combine the softened butter with minced garlic and shallots, mustard, and plenty of herbs. If your mustard has a lot of bite to it, a little brown sugar can help keep things pleasant. I used a honey mustard, so that wasn't particularly necessary. Mix well with a fork, and adjust ingredients to taste. You should taste plenty of mustard and herb flavor, as this will flavor the entire dish.
Right around the point that you finish the mustard-butter, the pasta and broccoli should both be done cooking. Combine everything in a sufficiently large pot - the pasta pot should do.
Now spoon in some of that butter mixture. Start with about half, mix well, and taste. If you like it quite subtle, that will probably do the trick. If, like me, you want plenty of bold, mustardy flavor, you'll end up adding the rest after a taste.
Mix again if you added more mustard-butter, and you're ready to serve. Be ready to offer seconds.
Recipe: Ham and Broccoli Pasta in Herbed Mustard-Butter
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6-8
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 3 tbsp Herbs (dill, chervil, basil, chives, tarragon, white pepper)
- 1/4 cup Mustard
- 1 Shallot, diced
- 1 Clove garlic, diced
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 1 lb Ham
- 16 oz Bowtie Pasta
- 3-4 crowns Broccoli
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Soften butter and combine first 6 ingredients (butter through salt and pepper) in a small bowl. Adjust ingredients to taste.
Chop broccoli into bite-sized florettes and steam until tender.
Dice ham into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Combine cooked pasta, steamed broccoli, and ham in a large pot. Add half of mustard-butter and mix well. Taste and add additional mustard-butter as needed.