Many people do not know the beauty of the ham ball. I grew to love them over the years and this weekend I cooked up a huge batch. There are many iterations of the ham ball or ham loaf and my history with them has crossed several states.
Growing up in Ohio it was more the ham loaf culture. When my Daddy passed away there were a lot of great casseroles and dishes that were passed on to our family. One that I distinctly remember was Marge Linkhorn’s Ham Loaf. I LOVED it and it along with Anne Smith’s Hot Chicken Salad Casserole are food items that I remember from those weeks in 1994 after my Daddy’s death.
Fast forward a few years to our time in Freeport, Illinois and we found ourselves at Trinity UMC where a huge fundraiser was their Ham Ball Supper. Members gathered in the kitchen creating these little balls of yumminess. The church cookbook carried the recipe that was followed – one submitted by one of the many saints of the church – Mildred McCulloch. This recipe uses a brown sugar vinegar sauce and it is my favorite one. Brown sugar for the win.
Our move to Iowa found us in another region where Ham Balls were revered. This recipe holds a little different twist in the sauce and includes a tomato soup addition. My friend Val from Corn Beans Pigs and Kids made Ham Balls one day with our mutual friend Jeni of JeniEats. You can find her post and recipe by clicking here.
I had some leftover Christmas ham in the freezer that was calling my name so I went to work and got a huge batch going. There is something comforting about a plate of ham balls. Don’t ask me to explain because I simply can not. A lot of memories come up when I make them and it may be silly but silly I am.
It’s a simple recipe thanks to Mildred McCulloch and I hope you enjoy making and enjoying them as much as I do.
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 pound ground ham
2 cups cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp dry mustard
Mix sauce ingredients together and cook for 3 minutes.
Mix crackers with the meat, add milk and eggs and mix well. Form into small balls and baste with sauce. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Can be reheated easily in a crock pot.