Sweet and Sour Ham Balls
Sweet and Sour ham balls
Sometimes it’s just fun to mix things up and try new things; and these ham balls were definitely new and different than anything I have ever had before…except meatballs I guess. There is no ground beef like normal meatballs, just ham, and pork. And, they are covered in an amazing sweet and sour sauce! The sauce takes them on a major detour from being an American dish to a Chinese dish. I guess you could actually compare them to sweet and sour chicken as much as you could classic meatballs.
How Ham balls are made
These Sweet and Sour Ham Balls are made using a combination of cooking methods. Before cooking, however, you first make the meat mixture and form the balls.
Then, you bake the balls of ham and pork until they reach a safe internal temperature. Once that temperature is reached, you transfer them to a crock-pot with the delicious sweet and sour sauce. The purpose of also putting the ham balls in the crock-pot is to make sure they get nice and hot and the sauce gets a chance to cook into them.
If you just cooked them in the crock-pot and skipped the oven step, you would end up with ground sweet and sour ham. The balls would fall apart in the moisture of the crock-pot.
The taste and texture are a little different than ground beef meatballs but totally a good different. Obviously it has a “ham” taste but the ground pork softens that out so it isn’t too strong.
Below are some of the things I did differently than the recipe originally called for and how that turned out for me.
Turkey Instead of Pork
Instead of ground pork like the recipe calls for, I used ground turkey. (I made this during the Covid-19 quarantine so ground pork was in limited supply). Turkey has less fat than pork does which is better for your body but also creates dryer meat.
For me, this wasn’t an issue because the sauce kept them nice and juicy. Other than taste, dryness could also be an issue with meatballs. If they are too dry, they won’t hold their form. They might crack or fall apart while you are forming them or turn to mush in the crock-pot. So, if you do run into this issue, you can add a tbsp of extra milk at a time until the mixture is sticky enough to keep its form in balls.
In conclusion, if you do want to replace the pork for turkey, for whatever reason, I say go for it! It will be just as great!
Sliced Ham Instead of Ground Ham
This recipe is from a Betty Crocker recipe book. I LOVE older recipe books but sometimes I find I am too young to fully comprehend them. The wording and even sometimes the ingredients are sometimes outdated. It becomes very difficult to recreate recipes in this situation. Whether this is the case for this recipe or not, this is the excuse I am using.
Their recipe called for ground ham. I got to the store thinking this is one of those things I have just never heard of. After looking everywhere, I eventually just called my mom because she knows everything. It was reassuring when she also had no idea what or where ground ham was either.
So, here is the solution I came up with: I bought a pound of Walmart’s quality sliced ham (highly recommend by the way). In groups, I put it through my food processor. You could also try diced ham, I just wouldn’t recommend the cheap thin-sliced ham. To avoid any grainy texture, make sure you ground the ham very finely.
Another idea we had was to use Spam. There is ground ham in it but I think the name and connotation around Spam just grossed me out too much. I chose to no longer entertain that idea but if you want to give it a try, be my guest!
Ground ham sure would have been nice but this system worked too. If you happen to run across ground ham though, use that and let me know where you found it!
Serving Suggestions for Sweet and Sour ham balls
- Over rice, as the main dish: This is my favorite way to serve these ham balls. I cooked a pot of white rice (brown rice is delicious too) and topped it with the ham balls. Since the recipe leaves plenty of excess sauce, you have enough to drizzle or drench your rice as well. This way there is plenty of flavor. For some extra flavor and color, you can also top with green onions.
- Alone with skewers, as the appetizer: This is a fun party side that people can snack on. It would also work great to bring to a pot luck.
Give it a try and I hope you love what you make!
Sweet & Sour Ham Balls
- Crock-pot/Slow cooker
- Instant-read thermometer
- 2 Eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup Graham cracker crumbs or plain bread crumbs
- ¼ cup Milk
- 1 pound Cooked ham sliced or cooked
- 1 pound Uncooked Ground Pork
- 2 9 or 10 oz bottles Sweet and Sour Sauce 1 ½ cups
- ⅔ cup Unsweetened pineapple juice
- ⅔ cup Brown Sugar packed
- ½ tsp Ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, graham cracker crumbs, and milk.
- In sections, put the ham into a food processor until it is pretty ground. If you need to add a splash of water you can.
- Add the ham* and pork to the egg mixture bowl and mix well.
- Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray
- Using a 2 tbsp measuring scoop or spoon, shape the mixture into about 60 meatballs and arrange them in a single layer on the prepared pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F when inserted in the center of a meatball
- While the meatballs are cooking, Stir together the sweet and sour sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, and ground ginger in the crock-pot.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, add them to the crock-pot and stir to coat them with the sauce.
- Cover the crock-pot and cook on high-heat for 1 ½ - 2 hours or on low for 3-4 hours.
- Serve immediately or keep in the crock-pot for 2 hours on the low-heat setting or keep warm setting.
I WANNA SEE!
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