Sometimes the simplest dinners are the very best, and that’s certainly true of this dish. Boiled ham dinner, also known as “New England ham dinner,” consists of smoked ham and hearty veggies that slowly simmer in a big pot on the stove, filling the house with a savory, mouthwatering aroma.
Our recipe for boiled dinner with ham makes enough to feed a family, but it’s mostly hands-off cooking. Just put everything in a pot, and let it cook. It’s one of those classic winter comfort food recipes that’s handed down through the generations.
What is a boiled dinner?
Dinners like this have a long history in New England, nourishing people after long hours of hard work and warming them up on bitterly cold days. Boiled dinners also made the most of inexpensive, tough cuts of meat and dense winter vegetables like rutabagas, beets and turnips. Simmered together all day over a hearth fire or on the stove, the meat and veggies emerge tender and flavorful.
Boiled dinners can feature countless combinations of meats and vegetables, and they often reflect the available ingredients and cultures of the regions. For instance, corned beef and cabbage is a favorite boiled dinner for Irish American communities. Coastal areas enjoy boiled dinners made with cod or seafood boils with a mix of clams, crab and shrimp. Some beef cuts like rump roast and brisket also work well in boiled dinners.
Boiled Ham Dinner Ingredients
- Smoked ham: A boneless, smoked ham becomes meltingly tender in the pot, and it gives the whole meal a smoky flavor and hint of salt. Smoked pork shoulder can also be used in this recipe.
- Root vegetables: Since vegetables like potatoes, rutabagas, onions and carrots are abundant in winter, this boiled dinner is a great way to use them up in the colder months.
- Water: It is a boiled dinner, after all! Add enough water to cover the meat and veggies. You can also replace some of the water with chicken or vegetable stock for an even more flavorful dish.
Step 1: Put everything in the pot
Find a very large stockpot or Dutch oven. Put ham in the pot, along with the onions, carrots, potatoes and rutabagas. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over everything. Fill the pot with enough water to just cover all the ingredients.
Step 2: Simmer the meat and veggies
Bring the water to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, place the cabbage on top of the vegetables in the pot. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for one hour or until the vegetables are tender.
Step 3: Drain and serve the dinner
Use tongs and a large slotted spoon to scoop the vegetables and meat out of the water, and transfer them to a cutting board. Slice the cabbage into wedges, discarding the cores. Slice the ham, and serve with a generous helping of vegetables and horseradish if desired.
Editor’s Tip: Save the cooking liquid from the boiled dinner, and use it for any favorite soup recipes or other dishes that call for broth or stock.
- Change up the vegetables: Try turnips, parsnips or sweet potatoes in this boiled dinner. If you’d like to add red beets, simmer them in a small, separate pot of water so that they won’t turn the rest of the dinner purple.
- Add spices: You can add traditional spices like cloves and cinnamon to your boiled dinner with ham.
How to Store Boiled Ham Dinner
Store the leftover ham and vegetables in separate covered containers in the fridge. They’ll last for up to five days. Reheat slices of the meat and the veggies in an aluminum foiled-covered dish in a warm oven until they’re warmed through.
Boiled Ham Dinner Tips
What can you serve with boiled ham dinner?
Boiled ham dinner has your meat, potato and veggies covered, so all you really need to serve with it are things like warm buttermilk biscuits, sliced bread with butter or our soft dinner rolls. A smear of fresh horseradish goes great with a boiled ham dinner, too.
Can you make boiled ham dinner in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can make boiled ham dinner in a slow cooker, although it will take longer. Layer the ingredients in the bowl of a large slow cooker, and add enough water to just cover the ingredients. Cook the meal on low for six to eight hours, until the veggies are tender.