My Pennsylvania Dutch Ham Loaf recipe has been created out of both necessity and love! There are many variations of Ham Loaf recipes. My recipe has been perfected after much trial and error.
Simple Ham Loaf Recipe
The goal is to keep it simple and focus on quality ingredients. PA Dutch Ham loaf is a great option when you find yourself with an abundance of ham. Have you found an amazing ham on sale and you need an alternative to simply cooking the whole thing as is? After a holiday dinner, have you made too much ham? No matter the case, Ham Loaf is a great answer.
Ham and Easter
I am writing this article with Easter around the corner. Similar to PA Dutch Ham Loaf, PA Dutch Pickled Red Beet Eggs are another local Lancaster County tradition, often made when there are an abundance of eggs!
Ham Loaf Recipe Requires a Meat grinder
To be clear, this ham loaf recipe is not for the feint of heart. Although the ingredient list isn’t long, it is involved and takes a good amount of time to complete. Be sure you make enough to freeze! Don’t go through all of this trouble without a few dinners in the future in your back pocket. This recipe also calls for the use of a meat grinder. This isn’t an implement in every kitchen. If your kitchen is missing a meat grinder, you can solve that problem very easily.
What to do with Leftover Ham
On a Sunday afternoon or a rainy Saturday, I sometimes find my mind wandering toward the savory, sweet, and smokey goodness that is Pennsylvania Dutch Ham Loaf. I often have a large chunk of ham in the freezer for just this occasion. Normally there is a pack of frozen bacon floating around too. I have a love of John F. Martin & Sons ham and bacon. If I have fresh pork, great. Otherwise, I will make a quick trip to the store, stop by S. Clyde Weaver for a smoked ham hock, and round out my ingredient list. If the stars are in alignment, I may even have some leftover Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls. All of these brands and producers are Lancaster County Pennsylvania traditions. If you are reading this article from afar, substituting your preferred local producers will be fine.
Pennsylvania Dutch Ham Loaf
Ham Loaf is meat loaf's interesting and unique cousin. It is a great option when you have an abundance of left over ham or you find an amazing ham on sale. It is hearty comfort food. I prefer to make a large batch and freeze convenient sized portions, about one pound for 2 people. This recipe is for 8 pounds of Ham Loaf mix!
- 3 pounds John F. Martin Smoked Ham Bone out
- 2 pounds S. Clyde Weaver Smoked Ham Hock Bone In
- 1.5 pounds Fresh Pork Boneless Uncured Chops, Loin, or Roast will be fine
- 1 pound John F. Martin Bacon
- 1 cup Condensed Milk
- 4 Rolls Martin's Famous Potato Rolls
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
- 2 Tbsp Minced Dried Onion
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
- .25 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
Cut the ham into chunks that will fit your meat grinder.
Remove the ham from the ham hock. The easiest way I have found to do this is with your hands!
The third meat included in the recipe is bacon. I slice the entire slab of bacon into 1 inch squares. Basically cut it to a size that will fit your meat grinder.
The last meat you need to prep is the fresh pork. Again, cut this into chunks that will fit the meat grinder. Once all of your meat is prepped, place the entire batch of 4 meats into the freezer. Leave it there as you prep the rest of your ingredients prior to grinding. About an hour will do.
With the meat chilling, let's start the rest of the ham loaf mix. Break your bread into small pieces, add the dry spices, mustard, and the condensed milk. Mix thoroughly until the bread starts to break down.
Please note, I don't add the eggs and vinegar until I am done grinding the meat. This gives your bread mixture time to combine and it allows the mix to form the texture you are looking for. Place this mix, as is, in the refrigerator to chill while you grind the meat.
Prep your meat grinder. For ambitious recipes like meat loaves and salads, having a meat grinder in the kitchen is a must.
Start adding your semi-frozen meat to the meat grinder. Alternate varieties for a thoroughly mixed blend. Don't worry about being too precise as you will be mixing the blend later.
Once your meat is ground, place it in the refrigerator and finish the rest of the ingredients. Blend in your eggs and vinegar to the bread and condensed milk mixture. The texture should evolve a bit and all ingredients should be thoroughly blended.
Now comes the fun part! It's time to get a little messy. Pour your bread and egg mixture over your ground meat. I use one hand to pour a bit while mixing with the other. Once all of the mix is combined, dig in with both hands, trying to thoroughly blend the two mixtures. This is actually quite important when trying to achieve the correct texture.
Well, this is a bit embarrassing. I don't have a picture of me adding the ham loaf into storage containers to freeze. Well, let's use our imagination! I simply use one quart plastic bags to portion and freeze individual servings. They tend to be about 1 pound for 2 people. I have also used aluminum loaf pans. You can portion your sizes in quantities you see fit. I always freeze some though. I can't envision going through all this trouble for just one meal!
Baking a frozen portion of ham loaf is easy. Simply remove the plastic bag, place on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour when frozen. Be sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. I use a meat thermometer.
Forgive me, but I have never baked any fresh ham loaf! The benefit of baking the frozen loaf is that you can cook it free standing and it will maintain its shape. Also, the entire outside will become golden brown delicious (GBD!) I would envision putting a portion of the fresh mix into a loaf pan. My guess is that you would need to cook it for less time. Use the thermometer as a guide.
When cooked fully, slice the loaf and serve with your favorite sides. I prefer scalloped potatoes and Brussles sprouts.
Aluminium Loaf Pans
Another great addition to the kitchen is a stockpile of aluminum loaf pans. Amazon has a bunch of options for both size and quantity. If using a loaf pan to store and freeze your ham loaf, I recommend a flat top on the loaf. Cook the frozen ham loaf upside down, removing the aluminium pan shortly after starting to bake, as soon as it loosens up. Yes, some juices will escape, but the entire exterior of the loaf will become golden brown, which is delicious. Plus, a soggy loaf isn’t a good loaf!