Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ham Balls

There is some midwestern food I will never learn to like.  Like "beef burgers". (You really have to see my face to know how I feel about those)

But Ham balls are another story.  I love these.   I don't even know if you can get ham loaf outside of Iowa but if you can, you have to try some ham balls.  Here is my version.  I even tried to figure out measurements just for you.

  • 1 lb ham loaf
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or crushed crackers  (I actually did not have either one and used oats and it was fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 can drained crushed pineapple (save the juice for the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp Penzeys American Barbecue spice

Mix that all up and form balls.  Put them in a pan and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
While they are in the oven make the sauce:
  • 1 Tbl butter
  • 1/ 4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Brown sugar
  • 2 Tbl Honey mustard 
  • 1 tbs Penzeys barbecue spice
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • The rest of the crushed pineapple & juice

Melt the butter in the ketchup in a small saucepan.  Add the other ingredients and mix.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes.  When the 15 minutes are up, spoon  it on the ham balls and bake another 45 minutes.


  1. Oh, I love ham balls! Suuuuuch a Midwestern treat. But what, pray tell, is a beef burger? Aren't most hamburgers made with beef?

  2. Oh you would ask. Well it's crumbled up hamburger as though in a Sloppy Joe or Barbeque as it's called around some parts in the midwest BUT NO barbecue, no sauce, no spice, just tapioca or cream of chicken soup to make it stick together. It's grey and just nasty. And people LOVE them. And they served them at my former church all the time. And I learned to put a LOT of mustard and pickles on it to sallow without chewing so I didn't have to taste it.

  3. I'd never heard of a "beef burger" and I think I'm better off not having heard of them by that or any other name. Maybe it's an Iowa thing that didn't make it into SW Minnesota?

    But then "ham balls" didn't ring a bell at first, either. But the recipe is slightly familiar sounding. Don't know I've ever had them, but they don't sound half bad.

  4. Maybe it's just a regional thing because thankfully I've not come across them here.

  5. It's funny what things are called. In some some places in Iowa don't ask for a vegetable burger if you are vegetarian - you will get a hamburger with tomato and lettuce.

  6. I like ham balls, but I hate the name! It was so hard to put a ham BALL in my mouth the first time. :) And I don't like beef burgers either. Thankfully, they seem to have never heard of them in Michigan. Another Iowa food I've never come across anywhere else is a "Walking Taco" but those I like.

  7. Ham ball hahahaha. LOVE Walking tacos!

  8. I've never heard of anything in this post or comments. Not a thing. (Except that one casual reference to lettuce.)

    I don't think New Yorkers actually have regional food anymore. But we do have lots of eclectic mixtures -- you know, "sushi pizza with a side of falafel, washed down with Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic." Come to think of it, I'll bet Dr. Brown's is our one real regional iten, isn't it?

  9. A few years back some skaters had to pull out of the World Championships being held in Minneapolis because they ate bad sushi. I like Sushi but I would NEVER eat Sushi in Minnisota! I don't know about sushi pizza.. don't you have sloppy joes either?

  10. "ham balls"... every lutheran potluck dinner has 'em. our local grocer in boonieville sells his own hamloaf, homemade brats, sausages and more. for a tiny burb, we are blessed when we cook!

  11. We do have sloppy joes, but only in grade school hot lunches, and at summer camp. You don't really eat them much after the age of 10. At least so far as I know; there may be a whole underground sloppy joe movement. Maybe the Williamsburg hipsters eat them with the Pabst Blue Ribbons. Actually, that wouldn't surprise me.

    As for eating sushi inland, it probably is not a great idea. Years ago, in a Peruvian mountain village, I ate my first serving of ceviche -- raw fish marinated in lemon. I was enjoying it, right up to the moment that I calculated my distance from the ocean, over muddy mountain roads. Then I gently put my fork down and asked for a mate de coca, fast.

  12. Never heard of ham balls or beef burgers. In our part of the country, rutamoose (sp?) is the must-have Lutheran dish at potlucks (which, around here, are tureen dinners). I've tried it and avoid it like the plague. It's rutabagas mashed with potatoes and diced pork.

    Walking Tacos are a new 'delicacy' here. YUM!

  13. Lots of swim meet snack bars sell walking tacos - put spicy ground beef (hamburger) in snack-sized bags of Fritoes.

    In the recipe, is the 1 lb ham loaf made of ground beef?

    My grandmother (would be 129 in July if still alive) used to call meatloaf, "chopped loaf" and would not allow me to pat it down/smooth the top of the loaf in the pan.