This is a sponsored post on behalf of the National Pork Board.
Ham Balls. If you have never heard of or tasted ham balls you are surely missing out. These sweet and savory bites are an old fashioned dish we have here in the Midwest. This is one of those potluck-favorite, feel-good dishes that everyone will ask the recipe for. The rest of the world hasn’t had the opportunity to know and love ham balls, but that’s going to change!
This recipe calls for a few special ingredients. Ham loaf is found throughout the Midwest and is mixture of ground ham and pork. Ground ham doesn’t taste like pork or beef, you really have to taste it because it is delicious. Another ingredient that may sound a bit strange in a meatball is graham crackers. Graham crackers add a sweetness to the salty ham mixture.
I’ve had ham balls before, but have never made them myself. My visit to a family-owned pig farm with the National Pork Board made me want add more pork to my meals and I thought I’d first tackle this traditional dish, but add a little twist.
Cranberry Jalapeño Glazed Ham Balls
These Cranberry Jalapeño Glazed Ham Balls are slightly different then the traditional recipes, which call for tomato soup and brown sugar for the sauce. If you would like extra sauce on top, reserve about 1 cup of the cranberry sauce recipe or make a double batch. I love the bright cranberry color of the glaze, but it loses that beautiful color when baked.
You can serve these by themselves as an appetizer (perfect for New Years!) or they are delicious over rice!
- For the ham balls:
- 2-3 lbs ham loaf
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1½ cup crushed graham crackers
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- For the Cranberry Jalapeño Glaze:
- 2 cups cranberries
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup diced jalapeños (about 3 large)
- ¼ cup vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 325
- In a large bowl, combine the ham loaf, pork, graham crackers, egg, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Combine using your hands and shape into 1 inch balls.
- Place in a 9x13 baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In a small saucepan combine the sugar, water and jalapeños. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the cranberry mixture to a blender or food processor and add the vinegar.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the ham balls.
- Bake at 325 for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes.