Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 24, 2011

Asparagus and Ham Cornucopia

When I was looking for more ways to use up leftover ham, I stumbled across a bizarre “Hamucopia” recipe on Flickr. What’s a Hamucopia, you ask?

This is!


DRAIN … 1 can asparagus spears
ROLL … 5 spears in each of 4 slices of boiled ham, sliced 1/4 inch thick. Fasten with toothpicks.
PLACE … in shallow pan.
BAKE IN … 350°F. for 15 minutes, remove toothpicks, and serve with Hollandaise Sauce.

I actually didn’t have any good ham slices left by the time I’d found this, but I really couldn’t pass it up. Seriously, just look at that thing. So I bought ham from the deli, and — horrors — a can of asparagus spears.

A side note here about canned asparagus: This is one of those vegetables that simply does not do well in a can. It’s beyond “overcooked,” beyond “mushy” — it’s like asparagus got pureed, but nobody told it to stop being spear-shaped. Just Say No.

Assembly is easy — asparagus, on ham slices.

Roll into adorable little cornucopias.

Bake! And then we come to the hardest part — the sauce.

Any cook that has to resort to using canned asparagus probably wasn’t going to be able to manage a sauce as incredibly finicky as hollandaise; it has to be whisked constantly (and I mean constantly) for minutes. Our first attempt was Just Not Quite Right — clumps of yolk in melted butter. Bleah.

Our second attempt was going perfectly, but when the cook decided to grab the camera to photograph it, it suddenly separated. However, it was Almost Right, and considering the state of the asparagus in the ham rolls and my low expectations, I ruled that to be Good Enough.

According to the original, a hamucopia should be served with hash browns, a ring of pineapple, and toast. I went with rice pilaf.

What surprised me most is that I enjoyed this dish! Buzz and I both took our first bite, preparing to make those “hmm how interesting” faces — and then were shocked to find it was actually quite tasty. It’s one of those retro recipes that would be really delicious if it was prepared with slight variations. Actually, just one specific variation: don’t use canned asparagus. It tastes like boiled grass clippings. A good-quality ham and a nice lemony hollandaise sauce can offset that, but fresh (steamed) asparagus could make this dish seriously amazing.

Original recipe and image is from Charm and Poise’s Flickr stream, and is used with her kind permission. She is also the originator of the “hamucopia” nickname 🙂



  1. I suppose it’s more or less like Eggs Benedict, without the eggs! I’m impressed that you ate canned asparagus. Is there no sacrifice you won’t make for the sake of authenticity in your blog? 🙂

    • I didn’t think canned asparagus would be nearly as vile as it was! But it’s definitely in the “never again” category, much like jellied meat salads…

  2. Having tasted canned asparagus (and having earlier experienced some of the horrible ingredients in Veg-All), I have a growing understanding of my father’s complete unwillingness to eat most cooked vegetables. His mother served vegetables this mushy on a weekly basis, sometimes out of cans, sometimes cooked from fresh.

  3. […] having had adventures with canned asparagus in the past, I sent Buzz out to get some chicken sandwiches just in case. Maybe this would transform the canned […]

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