- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 small ribs celery, chopped
- 1 cubanelle frying pepper or small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 chili pepper, such as Fresno or jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 1 can plum tomatoes (28 ounces), sliced 1-inch thick, plus their juices
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 slice good-quality white bread, torn into small pieces
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or vegetable oil
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds ham steak, cut into 4 slices
- Thinly sliced scallions and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Warm crusty bread or biscuits and softened butter, to pass around the table
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the celery, frying pepper (or bell pepper), onion, garlic, chili pepper, thyme and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices and the sugar and bring to a bubble. Lower the heat, partially cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the bread and lemon juice and stir to crumble the bread. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
In a large skillet, heat the EVOO (or vegetable oil), one turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the ham steaks and cook, turning, until browned on the edges, 3-8 minutes.
To serve, place the ham steaks on plates. Top with the tomatoes, scallions and parsley. Pass the bread (or biscuits) and butter at the table.