Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ham Salad Sandwich!

     The Better The Ham, The Better The Ham Salad!
     I always thought that the Ham Salad Sandwich was something that most people in America were familiar with.  When I first published this recipe 7 years ago, I found out that I was wrong when making that assumption.  Reader comments and email questions started pouring in shortly after the recipe was released.  Nearly every reader response stated something to the effect of "I never thought of making Ham Salad" or "I never heard of Ham Salad."
     Readers of my old food website reacted like Ham Salad was something novel and new.  The response was a surprise, because I thought that Ham Salad was more popular than it really was.  Apparently Ham Salad either was fast becoming a relic of the past or it already faded out of the limelight in many areas of the country.

     Ham Salad hit a peak in popularity in the 1940's and the 1950's.  In the 1960's, canned Ham Salad spread was popular with heavy industry workers, because it was a convenience item that had plenty of flavor.
     From what I can imagine, the popularity of Ham Salad more than likely started to fade away during the mid 1970's when the dining habits of the general public favored recent healthy cuisine trends.  Basically, anything that contained mayonnaise was deemed as being something to avoid back in those days.  Chicken was deemed as being the healthy meat choice and all pork products were cast aside.  The first round of health food trends in the 1970's caused many people to overreact and many old time traditional recipes, like Ham Salad, started to be made much less frequently.  Maybe this is why so many viewers never heard of Ham Salad by the year 2009, when I published the recipe.

     In the southern states, Dry Cured Virginia Ham (Southern Ham) is used to make a very unique tasting ham salad that is spread thin, because the salt content of that kind of ham is higher than average.  Smoked Ham also is a great choice for Ham Salad.  Most people prefer a mild tasting ham, like "Cure 81 Ham" to make Ham Salad with, because the semi sweet flavor is mild tasting.
     The better the ham is, the better the Ham Salad will be!  The same can be said for the sweet pickle relish.  A rich, sweet, mustard seed flavored pickle relish is best for Ham Salad.
     There are no surprises in today's recipe.  This is a very tasty Ham Salad recipe from back in the days when Ham Salad Sandwiches were a popular Saturday afternoon snack.  Those who have fond memories of those days will be pleased to see that the nearly forgotten classic Ham Salad Sandwich was revived!
     Ham Salad Sandwich:
     This recipe yields enough ham salad for 1 large sandwich or 2 petite sandwiches!
     Do not select a cheap low quality deli style pressed ham that is held together with gelatin!  That kind of ham has no flavor.  Select a nice quality roasted ham that is cured correctly.  Smoked cured ham is a good choice too.
     It is important to remember that ham contains plenty of salt, so no salt needs to be added to Ham Salad.  
     Step 1:  Trim the rind, fat or gristle off of 6 ounces of ham.
     Chop the ham into pieces that are smaller than a pea.
     Step 2:  Place the chopped ham in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons on small chopped onion.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.
     Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (Too much mayonnaise will cause the ham salad to have loose runny texture.)
     Add 2 pinches of black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Place a couple lettuce leaves on a slice of bread or toast.
     Place a portion of ham salad on the lettuce and tack on the second slice of bread.
     Cut the sandwich in half and set it on a plate.
     Garnish the sandwich with pickled guero peppers that are speared with tooth picks.
     I highly recommend stone ground whole grain bread for a Ham Salad Sandwich.  The rustic wheat favor tastes nice with Ham Salad.  This is a classic sandwich that is liked by many people!

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