A thousand years ago or so it seems, when I was growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, my Grandma’s Ham Loaf appeared at every church supper at the First Baptist Church in Dunkirk, NY. Grandma Burchett was raising her family during the height of “The Depression” and pennies, not dollars mattered. Women dreamed up creative ways to use up bits of this and a little of that to kept their families fed. Some leftover Ham and some inexpensive ( read “cheap”) ground Pork combined with a judicious amount of seasoning and Tapioca to expand the meat was turned into a delicious Meat Loaf. Enough to feed 10 hungry mouths which is the number Gram had to feed.
Back in the day, Gram’s Ham Loaf recipe was made and sold at Valone’s Meat Market in Dunkirk, NY. When Russ Valone retired his store was sold to the Watson family who carried on the tradition for many years. I never made a Ham Loaf myself. Instead, when I was in town, I would buy one from Watson’s to take home and bake. Then I discovered that Federal Meat Markets in Buffalo, NY carried their own version, so I began to buy it from them. But, they were a tad pricey for my budget and they became a rare treat beloved by all my family.
The original recipe that Grandma used has been starring me in the face since 1975 but I never made it. Why? Oh…I don’t know. Many reasons, I guess. Life just goes on…………………….
But, last week I baked a whole Ham and even after feeding the neighbors, I still had lots of Ham. Our local grocery store had just ground up some fresh Pork, so the planets appeared to be in alignment and I made Grandma Burchett’s Ham Loaf!
This is THE recipe as written in my cookbook from 1975. Gram died in 1968, so I know her recipe was way beyond the date it occurred in my cook book.
And delightful it was! So different from what I had purchased in the past. Moist, tender, filled with flavor and topped with a lovely sweet and tangy sauce, it will not be another 50 years before I make this again. Absolutely sublime! Family fare. Church picnic fare. Potluck dinner fare. I can’t wait to try it tomorrow in a sandwich!
And here, my friends, it what we’ll need!