Saveur (December 2009)
In writing about this recipe, Saveur tells readers that the sauce is "based on a recipe in Mimi Sheraton’s The German Cookbook (Random House, 1965)."
But we think we could have pretty much guessed that on our own. Ham steaks? In a cream sauce?
This dish screams 1965.
It's like something Mrs. Edna Schakowsky of Cleveland, Ohio, would serve for Thursday dinner before her husband's bowling buddies swing by to pick him up.
It's like what Mrs. Francine Flendermann of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, would serve on Monday night when the Dittmeyers come over for bridge.
It's what Alice would've served the Bradys.
We liked the idea partly for its kitschy 60's suburban-ness, but also because it sounded warm and comforting on a chilly early-winter night.
Let's dispense with one thing right away. In addition to this recipe's appearing The German Cookbook, Saveur actually lists the name of the dish as "Schinkensteaks mit Haselnuss-Sosse." We have a sneaking feeling that this dish is actually about as German as a pizza. (Or, come to think of it, about as German as a German Chocolate Cake.)
Let's get one other thing out of the way, too: There's nothing hazelnut about this. Oh, the recipe calls for them, and we dutifully included them. They smelled delicious going in, but immediately got lost in the sauce. We couldn't discern the slightest hint of hazelnut in this sauce.
But is it tasty?
Well, on the one hand, it's ham slathered in cream, covered with toasty breadcrumbs. How could it not be tasty? And, yes, we did think it was hearty and comforting.
But -- as much as we love ham, and as much as we love cream -- this is one heavy dish. The sweetness of the cream sauce (thanks to the apple brandy) was a lot to handle.
The whole thing was a little overwhelming and, well, a reminder of how people ate 40 years ago. It was a little like biting into a Nixon-era time capsule. Tasty, sure -- but just not really our thing.
Serves 2 to 4