I have a slight obsession with vintage recipes. Just something about the fads and trends of cooking that thought Jello molds and mayonnaise was a good combination fascinates me. I often find myself wondering, what was the mindset of the women (for it was almost assuredly women) who came up with these unorthodox combinations. I think it must have been a little bit of World War thrift combined with the post-war excess. There is a running theme of using up leftovers and presenting them in some over-the-top fashion. Mid-century cocktail parties were drenched in fish molds with green olive eyeballs and cocktail smokies on toothpicks. There must have been a huge quantity of alcohol consumed at these shin-digs for anyone to be brave enough to try some of the recipes I have seen.
My favorite genre of mid-century cuisine is the Tiki themed menus. Overflowing with ridiculous totem faced mugs and Hawaiian exotica music (complete with bird calls), the tiki party cemented pineapple and coconut flavored everything into the hearts of Americans everywhere.
My favorite “Hawaiian” combo is ham and pineapple. The salty and the sweet lend themselves so well to each other. This recipe is vintage but the taste is amazing and a great way to use up any leftover ham that might be lying around after Easter. Make it extra fancy by serving these little meatballs tiki-style with a cute little umbrella.
I have slightly adapted this recipe from the Simply Recipes Ham Balls recipe.
Gloriously Retro Pineapple Ham Balls
- 1 ½ pounds ground pork
- 1 ½ pounds ham cubed
- ½ pound bacon chopped
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 can pineapple chunks garnish
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ketchup
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- ½ cup crushed pineapple
- ½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons cold water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine the ham and the bacon and pulse a few times until the meat is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the meat mixture with the ground pork and the remaining meatball ingredients (except the pineapple chunks). Shape the mixture into 1-2 inch balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a thermometer reaches about 165 degrees.
- Meanwhile, combine the glaze ingredients, except for the cornstarch, into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch and stir until the sauce thickens.
- Remove the ham balls from the oven and coat with the glaze (you can brush the glaze on or just toss them in a large bowl with the glaze). Return the ham balls back to the pan and bake for another 5 minutes until the glaze is set.
- Place the meatballs on a serving platter, top with pineapple chunks and skewer with a toothpick.