Ham and potato balls with peas and parsley sauce

Ingredients to serve two adults and two 11 month olds:

Ham joint or chunky cut cooked ham

Peas (3 handfuls)

For the mashed potato:

Potatoes (I use two and a half fist sized or equivalent – you can use left over mash to make things like fish cakes, or freeze it for a ‘quick’ tea another day)

Milk (I use ‘a glug’ so about 30-50ml)

Olive oil or unsalted butter (optional)

For the parsley sauce:

Vegetable oil or unsalted butter, 1 tbsp

Plain flour, 2 tbsp

Milk, about 350ml

Chopped fresh (1 tbsp) or dried (1 tsp) parsley (typically dried herbs are more potent than fresh so as a rule of thumb use about a third dried as you would fresh)
Method:   

Peel and boil your potatoes in unsalted water. 

Meanwhile make the parsley sauce by heating the oil (or melting the butter) in a non stick pan. Whisk in the flour. When combined add a little milk at a time until half of the milk has been incorporated, whisking continuously. Add the rest of the milk and keep stiring. After several minutes the sauce should begin to thicken. It is then ready to serve. As it cools a little it will thicken further. 

This sauce is nice with a pinch of mustard powder or a good grind of black pepper. I don’t add salt because it’s for the whole family. 

By now your potatoes should be almost cooked so put the peas to steam above (quicker than boiling another pan of water and steaming means that fewer nutrients are leached out of the peas making them better for us). 

Slice the ham (hot or cold) and chop across the grain of the meat into small bits for little ones. 

I’ve made the mashed potato for the girls into little balls which I then roll in the ham or include peas in the ball. The girls liked this and found it easy finger food. Sometimes I pinch the potato into pyramid shapes rather than balls which also works well. 

This is a quick yet balanced and nutritious meal. We love this with other greens such as broccoli or green beans. Another nice variation is to replace the parsley sauce with either a poached egg or a slice of pineapple. Using ham rather than a gammon steak makes it easier for little mouths with few teeth to chew. 

We boil a ham joint every two or three weeks. Through the following week I’ll use it for this dish, in sandwiches and in meals like pea & ham risotto, chicken, ham & mushroom pie, salad dishes, pasta dishes, soups and ham & veggie packed quiche.what are your favourite things to do with ham? I’m always on the look out for different ideas. 

Boiling your own ham is a more cost effective way of buying it and it allows you to cut to your desired thickness for that particular recipe. Just a little ham in something like a quiche can give a great flavour. We usually cook the ham in the pressure cooker for 45 minutes  and if I have more time or it’s a special occasion I like to then roast it in with a spices rubbed on or marmalade – there are so many ways and there’s lot of different recipes online. 

Parsley is rich in vitamins A and C but we don’t usually eat enough to count it. It is nice though fresh in a salad. 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley has about 6% of your Vitamin A and 8% of your Vitamin C requirement as an adult. This is useful for anyone with an allergy to citrus fruits. 

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