So that cartography professor I mentioned last week knows about my blog, and gave me an incredible book: Fondue and Tabletop Cooking.
Actually, she brought it in, and asked if I wanted it. The answer, of course, was oh hell yes, because it is chock-full of recipes like Fruited Ham Balls.
1/2 pound ground fully-cooked ham (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 8 3/4-ounce can pineapple tidbits, well-drained and halved
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Combine ham, soft bread crumbs, sour cream, onion, and horseradish; chill. Shape about 1 teaspoon ham mixture around each pineapple tidbit half. Dip in egg, then in dry bread crumbs. Let stand a few minutes.
Pour salad oil into fondue cooker to no more than 1/2 capacity or to depth of 2 inches. Heat over range to 375°. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer cooker to fondue burner. Have ham balls at room temperature in serving bowl. Spear with fondue fork; fry in hot oil about 2 minutes. Transfer to dinner fork; dip in sauce. Makes about 48 meatballs.
So basically we start off making a horseradish ham salad.
This is the part when you “fruit” the ham balls — tucking a piece of pineapple in the middle and wrapping the ham salad around it.
Each ball is bite-sized — a bit over a tablespoon, perhaps.
I used panko bread crumbs, hoping for a nice fine crunchy crust. (It worked.)
There are actually a lot of recipes in this book that recommend deep-frying food at the table. I’m unnerved by this, to be honest — not because of the excessive fat, but because having lots of extremely hot oil at a fondue party, with everybody hovering around and dropping things in it, doesn’t sound terribly safe.
And it doesn’t even work: the temperature was steadily dropping while it was over the fondue burner, down past 300°F. If the oil is too cool, the balls (or whatever you’re frying) don’t cook right and they get very greasy. Maintaining 375°F. (a standard frying temperature, incidentally) required the stovetop.
We still ended up with 47 crispy fried fruited ham balls, though.
The oldest kid declared, “It tastes better than it looks.” In fact, she not only ate her share, she asked for seconds and ended up eating almost half of them. Everybody liked these, and I do have to admit it was fun frying them with teeny little forks. Inefficient, slow, moderately unsafe… but fun.