I wish I could tell you it’s been too hot for real cooking and that I’ve been making salads and cold appetizers like this to avoid heating up the kitchen, but the truth is that I was cooking up a storm last Saturday. Besides maybe going to the beach, it was way too hot to enjoy the outdoors. Well, it was too hot for me, so I stayed indoors with the A/C cranked up and had some fun. At least this dish was a cool one. The recipe for these pecan-cream cheese stuffed ham rolls comes from Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas, one of my favorite books.
The recipe feels like a cheat because it’s yummy but so easy. You mix up the pecans with room temperature cream cheese, a bit of heavy cream (just to moisten things up), and cayenne. Then you chop up two slices of the ham that you’re going to use in the next step and mix that in. I have to imagine the variations on this are nearly limitless. You could go more or less spicy, or maybe a little sweeter. Perhaps sliced turkey instead of ham. Walnuts would work well. I wonder about capers or chopped olives?
The mixture gets spread on slices of ham. There’s no need to worry about making it pretty for this step…
because once you roll them up, they look pretty much perfect no matter what you do. Finally you chill them for an hour or two to firm up the filling and to make them a little easier to slice before serving with tooth picks. A great make-ahead dish. I bet they’d be nice with deviled eggs on the side.