OK, so you’re ready to head into the big night. You have an idea of what you want to do, and most of the food is settled. But why not add a retro twist to the proceedings? It’ll be simple and fun.
Cracker spreads are always on the New Year’s Eve buffet. And I don’t know about you, but I really have a problem going to the grocery deli and dropping $3 to $8 a pound for something I’m able to make with 20 minutes and a little gumption.
Take ham salad, for instance. We always had it at parties growing up, because our family was huge. Really, really big. It was a staple on the snack table, paired with crackers, and right next to the seasoned cereal mix, locally made potato chips, and the really small bowl of chocolates from the shop that’s been downtown forever.
Now, there are two camps for ham salad. One maintains that ham, and ham only can be used. If you’ve frozen some ham that’s left from Christmas, now’s the time to get it out and thaw it!
Then, there’s how I was raised: Sugardale’s Cleveland Style chunk bologna is the only way to go, in my book. If you’re not in northeast Ohio, you can use any fine quality chunk bologna. (Folks down Lehman’s way swear by the chunk bolognas at Walnut Creek Cheese.)
Either way, finely grind each meat (or some of both) for a quick retro-style appetizer. Dress it up with horseradish or wasabi if you want to bring it into the 21st century.
Ham Salad Spread
6 cups ground ham or Sugardale Cleveland Style bologna
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/8 -1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles (if you’re a dill fan, swap for dill!)
1-2 cups mayonnaise (to moisten to your preference)
1-2 teaspoons prepared mustard (to taste)
Grind the meat well, with a hand grinder (or one mounted on your stand mixer, if you have that attachment). A food processor will reduce your meats to paste quickly, so grinding is recommended. If you don’t have a grinder, you can use the smallest oval holes on a box grater, but it’ll take you a while, and the texture will be chunky.
Put the ground meat into a large glass or ceramic bowl–you don’t want the acids in the dressings to react with a metal bowl. Add onion and pickles; mix through. Add the mayo in 1/4 cup increments until you are satisfied with the texture, and finish with the mustard, mixing it in well to taste.
Refrigerate overnight–it really is better the second day! Serve on crackers, or, if you want to really be fancy-schmancy, serve on toast points, water crackers or melbas.