Deborah Ryan’s Christmas Ham (hang) Fritters
The Student Digestive: fritters that must be eaten with an abundance of paper towels and ketchup on-hand
Christmas Ham fritters. Photograph: Deborah Ryan
- Serves: 4
- Cooking Time: 20 mins
- Course: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Irish
- Leftover Christmas ham, cut into 1cm slices
- 300g flour
- 250-350ml milk
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil or rapeseed oil
As a family, it’s not Christmas dinner that we look forward to as such, it’s these ham fritters that my dad makes on St Stephen’s Day.
Really, Christmas dinner is just a vessel for leftovers in our house. Dad has been making this family recipe throughout our childhood and has to cook extra ham just to satiate for our ravenous thirst for them.
He makes a thick pancake batter and cuts the leftover ham into thick slices. Then, he dips the ham hunks into the batter and pan-fries them until golden and crisp. These fritters must be eaten with an abundance of paper towels and ketchup on-hand. None of that fancy cranberry sauce your mum picked up in Marks and Sparks will do here.
My sister cannot stand cinnamon and so, we never use it in any meals. She sees it as a skill to be able to identify any foods containing this spice. One year, she became paranoid that the family dinners were beginning to taste of cinnamon but couldn’t be completely sure.
It went on for months. I suspected Dad was the culprit and he let me in on the secret whilst he was preparing the Christmas dinner. He had been adding a scant amount of cinnamon to almost every dish she ate. He only put in enough to make her question the presence of cinnamon but also doubt her instincts. He demonstrated by scooping up the tiniest amount of cinnamon with the end of a teaspoon.
With devilish swiftness, he lifted the pot on the Christmas ham and dropped the cinnamon into it. Needless to say, the fritter batter was also spiked with cinnamon that year.
These fritters are the perfect bridge between the post-trauma of the Christmas dinner table and the preparation for going out on the 26th. Never forget that even though you have made it through Christmas Day (hopefully unscathed), Stephens Day brings with it multiple awkward conversations with anyone you grew up with.
Conversation dries out after you cover “What are you doing in college?” and “How are you finding that?”. This pattern will continue into the wee hours.
This is a perfectly easy recipe to show off to your family, in a ‘Look Ma! I can cook now!’ kind of way.
Also, let’s be honest, leftover Christmas dinner sandwiches get a bit boring.
Mix the flour with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of ground black pepper. Whisk the egg and most of the milk together and gradually pour into the flour, whisking all of the time.
The batter needs to be a consistency of double cream. Add more milk if you need to, but it’s better to err on the side of too thick.
Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add a tbsp of oil. One at a time, dip the slices of ham into the batter until fully coated and lay flat on the frying pan. Fry three at a time until golden and flip over. Once golden on each side, remove to drain on kitchen paper.
Continue until all of the ham has been used.
Leave them to cool slightly before serving.