l love smoked ham…it is the “Dutchie” in me, I suppose. I never met anything containing ham I did not like. When I was a child, we had center-cut ham slices often; Mom would brown the slice in a cast iron skillet then make a cream gravy to accompany it. We also had ham for holiday dinners and the leftovers tasted just as good to me — maybe even better — than the original meal.
One of the reasons we did have ham so often was that it was one of the meats my Pappy (grandfather) would eat. He did not like seafood or poultry — he would eat beef and pork, but he LOVED smoked ham. Many times a piece of ham would appear on the table “for Pappy”, cooked by my Nana (grandmother) or Mom for him because the rest of the family was having some other protein he did not care for. Pappy never asked for that or expected it. He was quite happy and content to simply eat just the other sides or dessert at the meal. But when there would be ham, his eyes lit up.
I was a “Pappy’s girl”; in his eyes, I could do no wrong and vice versa. My grandparents lived with us (me, my Mom and Dad), so we were naturally very close. Pappy was fairly slight in stature with bowed legs, no hair on his head, and a perpetual smile on his face. He smoked a pipe and loved to sit in a rocking chair we kept in “the parlor”. He rooted for the Philadelphia Phillies (although he pretty much adopted them only after the Athletics left town) and was quite a good baseball player in his own right in his youth.
One of the most vivid memories I have of Pappy is him sitting at our chrome kitchen table where he would carve off two thick slices of my Nana’s homemade bread, place a few slices of baked ham on one piece, a big spoonful of her own mustard chow chow (a Pa. Dutch pickled mixed vegetable “relish”) on the other, quickly flip them together, smoosh them down, and take a big bite.
My Pappy came to my school plays, my girl scout events, and my piano recitals. He took me for treats when I came home with a good report card. He was my buddy. But the years as an Anthracite Miner left him ravaged by Black Lung and its complications. He died just before my 13th birthday.
I regret Pappy never got to see me get my driver’s license, or graduate, or get married, and I never got to cook for him. I think he would have really liked this recipe.
Ham CroquettesCourse: EntreeCuisine: Pa. Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
You can use left-over baked ham, a center-cut slice of ham or even a very good quality baked deli ham for these croquettes.
2 cups coarsely ground cooked ham
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion (use more to taste if desired)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup fine cracker crumbs, or as needed
- White Sauce
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup milk
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter or margarine and blend in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup milk. Cook quickly, stirring constantly, till thickened. Cool.
- Add ham. chopped onion (I use more), and mustard. Chill.
- Shape in croquettes. Dip in 1 beaten egg, then in ½ cup fine cracker crumbs. Let stand a few minutes.
- Fry in deep hot fat (375) 7 to 8 minutes, or till brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
- The recipe is from Better Homes & Garden New Cook Book, 1962