There’s a big running joke in our household: I make the sandwiches. This means I do not:
- coach junior sports leagues
- show up for junior sport practices
- sit in the sun at swim meets
- go camping a lot
- get all rustic with my plumbing needs
- run game stations or day-camp stuff
- get up at awards nights
All of those things require a mom who is not a: A Bit of a Slacker; and b: Rawthah An Indoor Cat, Dahling.
It does mean I:
- Make The Sandwiches
- Make Other Sandwich-Related Foods
- Send Family Members Away With Nourishment.
Of course, then we add back in the “Bit of a Slacker” part, and we get Slacker Mom Midnight Baking sessions, wherein I have a few nights of actual sleep under my pillow, and have family members (in this case, the menfolk) departing in the early AM for a day of bagpipes and drums, and I get to feeling guilty for not having made good on my promises to Make the Sandwiches.
Thus, tonight’s recipe.
It’s only a little bit slackery. I’m actually fairly well stocked on most basics, so I’ll put my Slacker Substitutes and Hacks in parentheses.
Ham and Cheese Muffins (24 big fat ones)
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- a few grinds of fresh peppercorn
- 1/2 cup lard (yep, lard. I wanted these to stay moist once they cool off. Butter could also work, if you have a thing about lard, but please do not try to Slacker-Sub margarine, because it is An Abomination.)
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, rough-grated or fine-cubed (the form is actually important. I wanted visible cheese bits, and if you fine-grate the cheese, it melts completely into the muffin, so no cheese-goo streaks or pockets.)
- 1-1/2 cups fine diced Black Forest, Virginia, Tavern, or Pit-style ham (I wanted a nice strong ham flavor. You could substitute a good quantity of chopped crisp bacon, or cooked sausage, but do not Slacker Sub any form of honey ham, as it is An Abomination.)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk (this is where I got a little Slacker-Substitutey, because I only had 3/4 cup of buttermilk. I wanted a nice tang, so I added some half-and-half (it needed to be used anyhow (and look at me go with the nested parenthetical comments!)) and enough sour cream beaten in to round out just a titch more than two cups of liquid. You could also Slacker-Sub plain milk soured with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.)
(Yes, you can double check… I closed all my nested parentheses. I Rawthah Rock, thanks.)
Heat the oven to 400*. Grease (and/or flour) 24 muffin cups (so, two pans). I used lard for this part, too.
Whisk the dry ingredients to remove any lumps, and cut in the lard, until you have a fine meal texture. Add the cheese and ham, and toss to mix them well into the dry ingredients. This helps prevent them sinking entirely to the bottom of the muffin. (This works with berries in sweet muffins, too.)
Add the oil, eggs, and milk, and stir to combine. It’s entirely okay for muffin batter to be a bit lumpy (which is why muffins are loved by Slacker Bakers everywhere!). Spoon into the tins. The muffins don’t rise a lot, even with all that baking powder. Or maybe my baking powder is going stale. That happens. It’s okay to fill each muffin cup right to the top, and with this amount of batter, you’ll need to.
Bake at 400* for 18-20 minutes, until a skewer in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist, but distinct, crumbs. You want these to be on the Not Overdone side, so they’ll be moist when cool, and tolerate re-heating without needing scads of butter. Of course, if muffins are your preferred Butter Conveyance System, then by all means, scad away.
Turn out the muffins (let them sit in the tins for about 2 minutes, then loosen them gently with a slender knife. Or, maybe use baking cup liners, but I’m a Slacker Mom and forgot to buy those), and let them cool on a rack until you can’t stand it and go wake up your husband to have him eat a muffin. Or, cool them completely and wrap neatly for tossing into a little basket the next morning.
Final verdict: these have a nice tangy flavor, fine crumb, the cheese stands out pretty well, and the ham stayed moist and gives a nice punch of salt. I think I might like them with a teensy bit of fine-chopped green onion included, too. They’re a nice savory muffin for packing in lunches, picnics, or something different for dinner. They’ll freeze well once baked, cooled, and wrapped securely, and they definitely go together fast. Success!