Here Comes Christmas…But First: Ham and Turkey Au Gratin

The halls have been decked and the shopping is more than half done ( a new record for me). Mama D’s Kitchen will soon be alive with holiday goodies both sweet and savory. Before I get started on all the wonders that will find their way onto trays and into baskets and jars, I thought I’d share one more recipe with you.

I’m sure your Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone (if not it’s probably time to clean out the fridge)  but, another army of holiday meals lies ahead and this recipe would transform some of the leftovers into a delicious and slightly healthy supper. I give you Ham, Turkey, and Cauliflower Au Gratin.

The inspiration for this came from my teen years. My mother and I lived within walking distance of the Oak Park shopping area on Lake Street. We loved to browse in the shops and occasionally buy something from the sale racks. We would stop for dinner at a restaurant on Lake Street. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of it. All I remember was that they served a Ham and Turkey Au Gratin that was to die for.

I felt so sophisticated when it arrived at the table, bubbling and golden brown in an individual gratin dish. The cheese sauce was thick and rich and the slices of ham and turkey were juicy. I always burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait to taste it.

I’ve made versions of this through the years, but this time, I think I came up with a true winner. The ham and turkey actually came from the deli, but this would be a fitting finale for your holiday meats. I added cauliflower because I was also going for a “not macaroni” and cheese dish. IMG_0689An inspired rummage through the refrigerator resulted in the addition of beer to the cheese sauce. I actually made the cheese sauce with 1% milk. It cut back on the fat and thanks to the aforementioned beer, no flavor was sacrificed. I used Extra Sharp Cheddar because it packs a lot of punch in a modest amount ( about 2 cups for at least 6 generous servings). Every cheese sauce needs a little mustard, a dash of Worcestershire, and a splash of hot sauce, so I added all of the above.

While the dish from years ago didn’t have one, I wanted the extra crunch of a Panko crumb topping. A bit of grated Parmesan added to the wonderfulness of that crust.IMG_0697A bake in the oven resulted in a golden crust, bubbly sauce, and the perfect marriage of ham, turkey, and cauliflower. IMG_0700

This dish took me back to a simpler time, yet paid a bit of respect to my healthier habits of the present.

Ham and Turkey Au Gratin
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Ham and Turkey Au Gratin
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  1. Spray a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the ham, turkey and cauliflower in the baking dish and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots and cook for several minutes until the shallots begin to soften.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add the beer to the pan and continue to whisk until a smooth paste forms. Allow to cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
  5. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens which should take several minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the cheddar cheese. Once everything is melted, pour the sauce over the meat and cauliflower mixture. Stir to combine.
  7. Melt the remaining butter and toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole. Top with the Parmesan cheese and give the top a light blast of cooking spray.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until everything is bubbly. Turn the oven to broil and let it go for 2 - 3 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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A note here on using cauliflower as a starch alternative: This vegetable is a veritable blank canvas and because of its color and texture can make a credible stand in for potatoes or pasta… it’s all in how you cut and cook it. It is considered a super food by many and as the Recipe Archive will show has been a guest in the Kitchen on several occasions.

Let the holidays begin (or should I say continue) and don’t forget to take some time to reflect and be thankful for all the year has given you, and if it wasn’t all that you dreamed, remember, you get to start over very soon.


2 thoughts on “Here Comes Christmas…But First: Ham and Turkey Au Gratin

  1. Ann Baker

    Ahhhh…wish I had seen this the day after Thanksgiving as I had both leftover turkey and ham. Plus we all love cauliflower. I’ve pinned it for the future, though. Looks so good!


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