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Nana's Hands


Norman & Janet Van Aken © 2015

Once again we reached into the Family Album for this recipe. Our grandmother came to live with us from her lifelong home in New York City when I was about 10. She arrived to our small, nearly out in the country town not knowing how to drive a car nor the many midwestern cultural differences we grew up with. But Lord could she inspire us to learn a whole lot of things that were mere specters to me before she came into our lives. One thing she brought from her New York City kitchen was an old-fashioned meat grinder. With it she made a few of her stock in trade dishes. Ham Salad was one of the ones my two sisters and I loved.

Note: Nana did not add jalapeños but like families and succeeding generations we change and hopefully flower.

Yield: 2 1/4 Cups

2 Cups of baked ham, coarsely chopped or ground

1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon mayo

2 Tablespoons Creole mustard

6 scallions, trimmed of the greens if you prefer… and cut crosswise into small rings

1/2-1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced

1 Tablespoon bottled horseradish 

4 Tablespoons prepared favorite Pickle Relish

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Tabasco or other Hot Sauce as desired

Pulse the ham briefly in a food processor. It works fine. Be careful not to turn it into a paste though.

Mix all of the above together. Chill a few hours or overnight covered.

When almost ready to serve it take it out of the fridge to take off a bit of the chill.

Serve on crackers or toasts.

Norman Van Aken has been described as legendary, visionary and a trailblazer. He is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.