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One-Dish Wonder

“D” is for “December” — and “decadent” and “delicious.” The list of adjectives seems never-ending when it comes to describing the most indulgent time of the year. With the leftover holiday ham, the remaining liquor from last weekend’s cocktail party and the growing assortment of nuts and goodies courtesy of generous colleagues and neighbors, your fridge, bar and pantry are every bit as full as your belly this month. So don’t wait until January to lighten up your overstocked kitchen or your diet; start now with this one-dish meal made from ingredients you already have on hand. The medley of flavors in Chef Dave’s Seared Ham Steak Salad with Bibb Lettuce, Warm Sweet Potato-Bourbon Dressing and Candied Pecans makes for a holiday-inspired supper that will surely stand out.
Chef Dave’s Seared Ham Steak Salad with Bibb Lettuce, Warm Sweet Potato-Bourbon Dressing and Candied Pecans

1 large sweet potato, about 3/4 pound, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 4 ham steaks, about 3/4 pound each
2 heads bibb lettuce, split lengthwise, gently washed
   to keep the leaves attached to the stems and patted dry
Candied pecans (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees, and bake until the sweet potato is tender and the syrupy sugars start to break through the skin, about 45 minutes. Remove the sweet potato from the oven, and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Cut a slit down the potato, and remove the peel.

Place the cream in a small saucepan, and bring it to a low simmer. Remove it from the heat.

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and water in a small pot, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add the hot cream, and boil for 1 more minute. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let it cool slightly.

Combine the sweet potato, warm sugar-cream mixture, vinegar, bourbon, shallots, pepper, allspice and salt in the barrel of a food processor, and purée for 30 seconds. Gradually pulse in the oil through the feeder tube in the top. Keep warm.

In a large skillet over high heat, sear the ham steak until golden-brown and caramelized on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Place the ham steaks on serving plates, then arrange a lettuce half, cut side up, on top of each ham steak. Sprinkle with the candied pecans. Drizzle 2 ounces of the warm dressing over the lettuce and ham steak.

Serve immediately.

Leftover dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Serves 4

Candied Pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pecans, and cook, stirring, until golden-brown and toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool. F

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

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