Ham Salad –
Ham Salad Sandwich Spread has been a favorite of mine forever! As much as I love Easter ham, I almost love the leftovers more to make this recipe!
When developing recipes for this delicious ham salad spread, it’s one of those recipes that the original creators must have asked themselves, “What do we call this?”
Then in an attempt to figure it out, as they put the names in a jar and shook them all up, a big wind came along, blowing the words across the Upper Midwest, swirling them across the Mid-Atlantic, and into the Southeast regions of America and to kitchens everywhere…
Before jumping into the story about his recipe, it’s essential for those who need to be gluten-free to know a thing or two about ham brands. Because while most manufacturers are willing to report that their hams contain no gluten ingredients, they are unwilling to state that their products necessarily meet the accepted definition of “gluten-free” (having less than 20 parts per million gluten).
That’s because ham isn’t always safe for people needing a gluten-free diet or for those who are particularly sensitive to trace gluten that can happen during handling. The meats themselves can be cross-contaminated, and spices and glazes often used in processing (frequently do) contain gluten ingredients.
So, if you need to be gluten-free and have a ham brand you’ve eaten and liked that hasn’t given you a reaction, then go ahead and stick with that. But if you are new to the gluten-free diet and you’re searching for the safest ham possible, your best bet is to choose one of the brands that are certified gluten-free. To get you started in the right direction, Verywell Fit has published an extensive gluten-free ham list complete with ten safe ham brands, plus hams to avoid.
* “What’s in a name?”
To begin, I reference Shakespeare, and while the origin of this phrase is unknown, his poetic writing many believe said it best:
It implies that a name means very little, but the individual‘s (or in this case, I argue the “things”) worth counts.
Consider this (albeit, cheeky rewrite):
“Tis but thy mixture’s name that is my puzzlement;
Thou art thyself, though not a sandwich spread.
What’s Ham Salad? …O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By Any Other Name would smell as sweet;
So Ham Salad would, were it not Ham Salad call’d,
Retain that dear perfection (and yummy tasty flavor) which it owes
Without that title.”
Please pardon my wit at the famous playwright’s expense and the script’s literary morphing (Lines 38-49). But like Juliet, I would also argue (as she did) that though Ham Salad is from another’s house named something different, it does not matter to thee, as long as we both love the recipe.
All joking aside, at our house, ham salad has been known to be pretty serious stuff, especially if there’s an empty bowl left in the fridge about the time you had a taste for some.
What is Ham Salad?
In the United States Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions, ham (and sometimes bologna, like in my recipe for Ground Bologna With Pickles & Onions) salad has graced American tables, lunch boxes, and gatherings. We’ve eaten it served up as cheap everyday meals during the Depression-era, used it as an easy way to use leftover baked ham, and shared it as comforting funeral food.
In each case, the dish’s chief selling point has been its affordability and convenience.
How To Make Ham Salad
The recipe is simple to make for home cooks, using ground-up ham or ring bologna (sometimes ground with a meat grinder, commonly today, it’s run through a food processor). Add mayonnaise, pickles, and onion as I do. Some recipes often incorporate hard-boiled eggs, celery, onions, and Dijon mustard, but many cooks, like myself, stand by the 3-4 ingredient version’s delicious simplicity where the savory, creamy result is slathered between slices of bread or spread on crackers.
There are only three steps:
- Grind the ham with a meat grinder or whirl it in a food processor to chop it up.
- Transfer the ground ham to a bowl and mix in the ground pickle, onion, and mayonnaise (see the recipe below).
- Serve spread on bread or mound it into a bowl for eating on crackers. To keep it low carb, fill it in lettuce wraps or scoop it into hollowed-out bite-size tomatoes as a snack!
Why Grandpa Called It Funeral Spread
Being a curious kid, I once asked my grandpa why he called it Funeral Spread. He told me that they called it that because ham salad served as a side dish or as sandwiches always held a prominent place on tables at post-funeral luncheons for grieving families. Adding that thinking back to the many post-funeral lunches he’d attended, “it was one constant that there would always be ham salad served us, mourners.” Yet, rather than developing dark associations with the porcine spread, grandpa went on to paint a much prettier picture in my young mind. “Aside from foods that made their way to the homes of those grieving and suffering,” grandpa assured me, “funerals are more about friends and family gathering to catch up with one another, reminisce, and tell good memories about the departed.”
Thinking back, isn’t it kind of crazy how some of the best things learned in life come from discussions that begin with talking about food?
God bless grandpas’ everywhere and the lessons they teach us.
As I mentioned earlier, to make simple and easy-to-make bologna spread with just as many possibilities, check out the ground bologna version of the recipe for Ground Bologna With Pickles & Onions!
It’s another classic comfort food that makes an easy and economical lunch or dinnertime meal.
P.S. If you give either the ham or the bologna versions of the recipe a try, let us know which one is your favorite!
Did you make it like we do or add in other ingredients?
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Ham Salad Sandwich Spread
- Meat Grinder or Food Processor
- mixing bowl
- Utensils (Rubber Spatula or Large Spoon)
- 1 pound cooked gluten-free Ham* ground
- 4 Dill Pickles Approx. 4-inches long
- 1 medium Yellow Onion Skin removed. You can use white onions but yellow onions are much milder for this recipe.
- ½ cup gluten-free Mayonnaise Real Mayo, unsweetened
- Serve as a sandwich on your favorite gluten-free bread.
- Spread on your favorite gluten-free crackers for a quick snack.
- Dip with your favorite gluten-free chips or vegetables.
- Fill cored and seeded cherry tomatoes for an easy appetizer.
(Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.)
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