Hamloaf? Never heard of it—until I visited Russ’s mother, Mary, out in Butler County, PA nearly 2 decades ago. And when I heard that’s what we would be having for dinner upon arrival, I was none too excited. Apparently it’s a Western Pennsylvania thing, and every summer thereafter whenever we returned to visit, it seemed to be everywhere. You’ll find it at grocery stores, butcher shops, mini marts; I think you can even buy it at some gas stations. Along with a list of other meats for our vacation stay, Mary would have us get the goods from the reputable meat market, Brose’s—no gas station purchase on her watch!
If you are in the realm of the uniformed, hamloaf is a baked meat dish, similar to meatloaf, made of ground ham and ground pork and combined with other ingredients to form a loaf like shape. Distinct in color and taste from meatloaf, hamloaf is often baked with a sweet & savory glaze—Mary’s was a combo of currant jelly and grated horseradish—which actually went quite well with the meat, although neither of us can remember the exact proportions…
Of course, I did end up liking it that first time, and pretty much every time since. So recently when I was shopping at our local Amish Farmer’s Market picking up some rib-eyes for Father’s Day, I noticed they had a tub of the hamloaf mixture and promptly bought a couple of pounds thinking it would make for an easy weeknight dinner—and perhaps bring back some fond memories.
A good number of years have passed since we indulged in this “delicacy” and I wanted to up the game by getting a smidge more intricate with the glaze by incorporating a half dozen ingredients as opposed to two. The end result was a more complex and nuanced flavor base. In combination with some steamed fresh green beans and roasted baby red potatoes, it was an easy and tasteful meal.
NOTE: Make measuring sticky liquids like molasses and maple syrup easy by coating the measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray before adding the liquid; this will ensure it slides right out into the saucepan.
Maple-Molasses Glazed Hamloaf
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs hamloaf mixture
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
- 2 Tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (for the finish)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In small saucepan set over medium heat, combine maple syrup, molasses, orange juice, mustard and garlic.
- Cook, stirring often, until mixture is well combined, steaming and reduced down a bit; about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat; stir in vinegar.
- Shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place loaf in small casserole dish.
- Brush enough of the mixture over ham to coat evenly.
- Bake ham loaf, basting occasionally with some of the remaining glaze, for 40 to 45 minutes total or until heated through and top is browned and sticky. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with extra glaze on the side.
If you’ve already had an experience with hamloaf, or have another special glaze recipe, I’d love to hear about it!