Fuck Your Shit Up With This Ham Tetrazzini, AKA, “Hamtrazzini”

I live in a house with three people and one of those three people is a tiny person of meager age, and despite all that, I made a 9-lb ham on Easter Sunday. Which means that I presently have enough ham to fill a tote bag. I have all the ham. It is an endless tornado of ham. A HAMNADO. And this isn’t a Hamilton reference. I’m not being sly. I mean that I have a fucking shitload of proper once-pig in my refrigerator.

Leftovers from holidays present a challenge because most folks fall into the lazy pattern of making a set number of expected leftovers. With ham it’s, what? You might make ham salad. Or ham sandwiches. Maybe you stick some in an omelette. Or you make a ham hat. Or a ham shirt. Maybe you put a couple googly eyes on there and have a HAM-BASED PUPPET SHOW. Eventually, though, you get burned out on it. Monday rolled around — one day after I made the ham — and I was already like, fuck this ham. Fuck this ham sideways. Stick this ham back up the pig’s ass, because I am done with it. Ham is stupid. Why did I buy 47,000 lbs of ham? Why didn’t we just eat cereal for Easter? Cereal is delicious. You peel a couple Cadbury eggs, drop them into a bowl of Cheerios, and feast like fucking royalty. Ham? Why did I do that? Ugh.

So, I was trying to concoct something to do with the ham that was unexpected, while at the same time still utilizing a goodly portion of the ham. And I thought, okay, once in a blue moon I make chicken tetrazzini, which is a pasta dish from my youth that used cream of mushroom soup, which is to say, it’s super disgusting when you make it like that, but it’s super awesome when you make it with fresh ingredients. And I thought, I’ll make that. I’ll throw out this stupid ham and make chicken tetrazzini, instead. But I didn’t have chicken. All chickens had abandoned me.

I had ham. Of course. Shit.

So, HAM TETRAZZINI it was.

Here, now, is how I made this ham tetrazzini, aka, HAMTRAZZINI.

It was amazing.

So now, you will make it, too. You will take the tote bag full of ham leftovers that you possess, and you will combine them with awesome ingredients and you will then Paypal me a bunch of money for the huge favor I just did for you. You will tattoo my face on your body. You will tattoo my beard onto your face. You will thank me by forming a religion around me.

Let us begin.

Get an onion. One onion. Sweet. Medium-sized, which is to say, roughly the size of a baseball and not a softball. You are going to slice it thin, and then you’re gonna put it in a hot pan with a generous dollop (1-2 TBsp) of unsalted butter. Sprinkle a little salt on that bad boy. Cook the onions till they are soft and weak and pliable. Cook the onions till they unfailingly do what you ask them to do even if what you ask them to do is against their moral code.

Now, mushrooms.

Mushrooms are kinda fucking gross because they’re like nodules of fungus that grow up out of heady, poo-rich earth, and they’re doubly gross when they’re out of a can or in bad Chinese food. As a kid I hated mushrooms because I was pretty sure they were actually little human ears. Thing is, you gotta know how to handle mushrooms — that means buying good mushrooms, ones that aren’t slimy, ones that aren’t out of a can, ones that you didn’t buy from some guy who had the mushrooms in his foul-smelling trenchcoat. In this case, some white mushrooms. The basic 101 mushroom. I got like, a half-pound or something? Came out to about two cups, sliced. Slice them up, as noted. Then put them in with the onions. You might need another pad of butter in there, I dunno. You do what you like. This is your food. I’m not eating it.

Oh, shit, somewhere put a little garlic in there, too. I did like, three cloves, minced. You can do more if you really like garlic. My father used to eat whole cloves of garlic because my father was disgusting. He was convinced that it cured all kinds of diseases, including cancer, but of course he died from cancer so either he didn’t eat enough garlic or that shit just didn’t work. Either way, his breath could melt a garage door. He’d eat garlic cloves and also hot peppers right out of the garden. Pop a jalapeño into his mouth and just, chaw chaw chaw. If I did that, I’d create a volcanic channel of pure heartburn in my chest and then I’d crawl behind the couch, weeping. My father also chopped off his own finger and wrestled a whitetail buck to the ground so he could hog-tie it, whereas the toughest thing I can muster is opening a pickle jar without one of those jar-lid-opener-helper-flappy-things, so I’m clearly almost as tough as he is. Was. Whatever.

Enough about that. I’m way the fuck off track here.

While the ‘shrooms and onions are soaking up the butter (5-10 mins in the pan), get yourself a receptacle (bowl, jar, jockstrap) and mix into it: 1 cup of dry vermouth, 2 TBsp sherry vinegar, pinch of salt, 1 tsp thyme, whisk that shit around in the jockstrap, then pour it into the pan.

Simmer it until it reduces down to a magnificent slurry.

Now, get yourself a pot of water boiling. For pasta. Actually you probably already should’ve started this because, c’mon, boiling water for pasta is the slowest activity in the history of man. Well, actually, publishing a book might be just a hair slower, but whatever.

Time to talk ham.

#HAM4HAM

Sorry, Hamilton reference. I guess. I’ve never seen Hamilton. I’ve listened to some of it and I like it but I’m afraid to listen to more because if I don’t like it, then people will kill me. They will find me, and they will burn me as a heretic. And I’ll admit that I was profoundly disappointed to learn that Hamilton contains no actual ham. When people first started going gonzo for the show, I had no idea what it was. I Googled it and found the show, and thought, “A musical about American history, oh, ha ha ha it can’t be that,” and I continued to believe that surely, surely actual ham was involved. But it wasn’t. It goddamn wasn’t. Expectations? Dashed.

Anyway, you have two metric butt-tons of ham, so cube enough it of to fill three cups. Ham cups. That was my nickname back on the football team, by the way. “Ol’ Ham Cups” Wendig, they called me. “Go long, Ham Cups! Go long! Secure a goal tally for the home team, Ham Cups!”

Whatever. Cube your ham, you rube.

I will wait. And I will watch as you sensually chop ham.

Mmm. Yeah. Ham it up, you. Ham it hard. Cube it hot. Mmm.

OKAY HAM VOYEURISM OVER.

By now your shroomy onion goop should be good. Put it in bowl and set it aside to think about what it’s done. Let it simmer in its own juicy shame.

Take the same pan, and you’re going to make a roux, which is French for buttery flour clump. Put into the pan 4 TBsp of butter, let that melt, and whisk (great word, say it with me: whisk whisk whisk) into it 1/4c flour. Then let it get golden brown but not like, dark diarrhea brown.

Now it’s time for the wet stuff. Which sounds pornographic but isn’t.

Mix in:

1 cup of heavy cream.

3 cups of milk.

1 cup of chicken broth/stock.

(If you’re one of those cocky hipsters who laboriously makes his own stock, good for you, go groom your precious mustache. Me, I use this shit, because it’s really good, and also I am fundamentally lazy.)

Then, 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk periodically while periodically drinking whisky.

This yummy DAIRY CAULDRON should bubble for about ten minutes on low-med heat.

Cook your pasta. Really, I don’t give a shit what kind of pasta you use. I think tetrazzini uses linguine, but I had spaghetti, and I’m sure there’s some argument about what pasta goes best with what sauce but really, for me, who cares? Use what you like. Use pasta shaped like little Darth Vader faces, I don’t give a flamingo shit. Hell, maybe you don’t even use pasta. Maybe you just rice. Or Cheerios. Or driveway gravel. I don’t control what you do at your stovetop, reader.

Pasta done, drain and strain and lovingly caress it. Like it is the hair of a dead lover.

Dairy cauldron done bubbling, too. Good. Great. Yes.

Mix into the now-empty pasta pot: the dairy goop, the shroomy onion goop, the pasta, and mix ‘em all together. Now mix in: one bag of frozen peas. Now mix in the cubed ham. Mix, mix, mix. Then pour in in: 3 TBsp more sherry vinegar. Sherry vinegar is an epic secret to a lot of great dishes. For years my chicken noodle soup was fairly mediocre until I learned to put in a splash of sherry vinegar right at the end and suddenly it became sublime. SHERRY VINEGAR ALSO GET YOU CRUNK. Okay, it doesn’t really. Just drink red wine or gin like a fancy grandma. I am a fancy grandma. Why aren’t you?

Now, get yourself a big-ass baking dish and set the oven to 425F.

Actually, you probably should’ve set the oven to 425F earlier.

But you didn’t, because you’re a jerk.

WHATEVER DO IT NOW.

Into the baking dish, pour your MILKY PASTA MAGMA.

Now it’s time to talk topping.

For my mileage, I don’t use breadcrumbs because I never ever have them. And I never feel like taking the time to make them so I’m always saying fuck these breadcrumbs and just going without. But I will note here you can do a couple nice substitutions for breadcrumbs:

a) potato chips, no seriously, this can be amazing

b) saltine crackers, also delicious

c) dandruff, but only if it’s really crunchy scalp-flake, and don’t forget beard dander, too

d) crickets, live or otherwise

e) grated LEGOs

Anyway.

Take 1.5c of fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and sprinkly-dinkle it over top the milky pasta magma in the baking dish. Then if you’re using the breadcrumb-or-substitute, use about 1/2 cup of it and sprinkle it over the top of the whole affair.

NOW BAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

BOOM

Which is to say, 20-25 minutes in the scorching doom-cube that is your oven.

Now it’s done, it’ll be about 1000 degrees, and won’t cool down for approximately 7 hours, so just sit and stare at it until it finally chills out. And then when that’s done, it’s dinner time. It’s ham leftover dinner time. Take the pasta and shove it in your pasta hole. That is the round, largest hole in the center of your dumb face. Just grab it with your hands and cram it into the pasta hole until your cheeks are bulging like those of a greedy hamster.

Enjoy. Now send me money.

#HAM4CHUCK

57 comments

  • “Put into the pan 1/4 cup of butter, let that melt, and whisk (great word, say it with me: whisk whisk whisk) into it four TBsp of butter.”

    TBsp of flour, surely?

  • Excellent. Sounds WAY better than the turkey tetrazzini (with spaghetti and canned mushroom soup) I was subjected to as a tot.

    Also, other substitutes for breadcrumbs:

    Crushed Jax (if you have them) or Cheetos. Especially on mac and cheese.

    Ritz crackers

    Corn flakes or other bland, vaguely savory cereal

    Crumbled croutons

  • No pictures of final product, Chuck? How am I to know what perfection I’m aiming for? You’ve got that magnificent camera and everything!

    I’m gonna make a big hammy mess and throw it on a plate now…

  • Or you could tape the pork product to the cat and post pictures to the web. (Surely it will seem original and blow up teh interwebz cuz nobody remembers that Scalzi dude and his baconcat. That was like a gerzillion years ago in interwebz time… Everything old is new again, right? https://youtu.be/b20D_ON2Etc

  • March 29, 2016 at 10:10 AM // Reply

    Sounds like a good dinner. But I have to point out (as someone who will also buy a large ham for a family of 4): ham freezes. Even better if you divide it into usable amounts before freezing. Just saying ;)

  • Careful…HAMNADO will be the next Friday movie on SyFy ;-)

    “…A twister in Texas picks up a sounder of feral pigs mutated by fraking run-off and descends upon Dallas in a flurry of tusks…”

    Damn… I need to write the shit outta that!

  • I was like that about Hamilton once… seriously, why on earth was everyone obsessing about a historica fricking musical about people I’d never heard of (I’m British. I’m allowed to not have heard of obscure founding fathers, and I’d never really noticed who that dude was on the ten dollar bill when I have been in the States, go figure). Plus I figured I’d never see this on stage, I’m in a totally different country and why would anyone transfer something literally called ‘an American musical’ to the UK, sooo… what would be the point?

    And then it was on Spotify and it just… crawled into my brain and took up residence over several months? I haven’t even listened to it all the way through in one go yet? I think? There are 43 tracks, which is just ridiculous, and at least four of them literally make me sob. And it’s so clever? Like I cannot even process how clever (and just really, really funny) some of the wordplay is, I sat there listening to it on my commute home the other day and kept involuntarily smiling at punchlines I hadn’t noticed the last 75 times I’d heard it. On public transport. This does not happen. People thought I was crazy. In conclusion, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an evil, evil genius.

    • I hate to say it, but it lives up to the hype in person. Get tickets if you ever, ever can. Sell your kidneys. Sell your children. SELL YOUR CHILDREN’S BULLIES’ KIDNEYS. That’ll show ‘em.

  • Boiling water for potatoes is equally slow. But hailing from the land that loves their spuds I have some wisdom to share. Boil the water in the kettle then pour it into the pan and add the pasta/potatoes. 10 minutes becomes 2 minutes.

    I told this to a Norwegian once when she was lamenting about the time involved in the process and it honestly had not occurred to me that this is not something everyone Just Knows.

  • Brilliant… now I’ve just turned 30 pounds of leftover ham into 600 pounds of leftover pasta… WILL IT NEVER STOP? [sobs]

    Oh, oh… try putting those little goldfish crackers on top. Try not to eat the rest of them in the box.

  • New project: spider Terribleminds for all the Wedigisms (gotta catch ‘em all). Use those Wedigisms to create a parser (like that evil profanity removal system from whenever ago). But rather than sucking, this parser will instead take your weak and lame Better Homes and Joy of Sexing Food cookbooks and turn them into inchoate Wendicookbooks. There’s probably a better name for it; get a team on that. In your “Free Time” ™, apply Wendig editorial finesse, because we know robot wordification is fundamentally weaksauce.

    Your grandchildren will thank you.

  • March 29, 2016 at 12:31 PM // Reply

    I will note that my dog mmmayyybe got to eat like a metric ton of ham and ham fat with his breakfast today.

  • We call this leftover casserole. It has been a tradition in my family for years. After thanksgiving you use turkey. After Easter you use ham. After Christmas….you don’t get no casserole cause NO ONE is messing my leftover PRIME RIB with that stuff.

    This also works great as a “crap I have nothing to cook for dinner oh look I have a can of tuna in the cupboard” dish. Seriously. Try it with tuna. It’s delish.

    Another tradition in my family is the after holiday breakfast dish known as CHEESE PUDDING. Don’t knock it. It’s heaven. If you want the recipe, I’m always throwing it at people.

  • “Take the pasta and shove it in your pasta hole. That is the round, largest hole in the center of your dumb face. Just grab it with your hands and cram it into the pasta hole until your cheeks are bulging like those of a greedy hamster.” Thanks for making me laugh when otherwise this day has sucked. <3

  • Emeril Lagasse would weep, weep I tell you, at your lyricism. I think the official term you are looking for in kitchen implements for ‘jockstrap’ is actually “Ball Bowl”. I believe Rachel Ray cursed when she broke her ball bowl. It was her favorite, you see.

  • Oh course it is delicious. It has a half pound of butter, a cup of cream, enough salt to deglaze any Northeastern Highway and alcohol. So you throw a bunch of frozen peas in it. You CANNOT redeem a this dish with a handful of peas. Sorry. It does sound delicious. But no, I can’t risk my cardiologist having a heart attack of his own if he heard I ate this.

  • March 29, 2016 at 5:18 PM // Reply

    Now I have absolutely, positively and unmistakably read everything.
    This post will go down as one of the by far best ‘out there’ offerings of 2016.
    Thoroughly deserves any money sent.

  • Mmmmm… sounds delicious! My mom’s tet recipe includes grated cheddar, which would be divine with ham. I may have to sub in porcine for avian flesh next time I make it …

  • Damn, this sounds delicious. It also sounds like a helluva lot of work. However, TymberDalton makes a good point – a cookbook by you would be both entertaining and useful (assuming I get over the fact I would actually have to cook something).

  • CHUCK! I am a sorta newish lurker to your site, but I wanted to make an off-topic comment tonight because….I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY FIRST NOVEL. And you really helped make that happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your posts on novel planning and drafting were especially great. I’m super excited, so I’m going to go so I can squeal in incoherent joy. Thanks again for this site.

  • This might inspire some wrath from Mr Wendig but……….if you spend your time writing stories doesn’t the above “recipe” become:

    (a) a plot for your latest story whereby Mr ‘Shroom and Miss Onion have a romantic entanglement and it gets heated over the course of 4hrs (400 pages) before being “eaten by the reader”?

    (b) Just a science fiction recipe that isn’t at all real and doesn’t work? **wink wink**

    Ok i’m just gunna back away quietly and hope i make it to the door.

  • Excellent recipe!!!

    … did you know? … you can freeze ham. Yes indeedy! … just slice or cube, whatever takes your fancy, stick it in a freezer bag, and there you go! :D

  • I make this thing called “Doom Sketty”, which is a version of bolognese, but scarier due to it’s combination of questionable leftover fridge meat items. For the record, put enough tomato sauce on *anything* and it’ll last forever. Like seriously, it makes me want to know what they put in tomatoes. Or maybe it’s just the preservatives from the canned sauce, I DON’T KNOW. Either way, that shit ends up delicious, despite my never remembering half of what I put in it.

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