I was going to call these absolutely delicious meatballs Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs but that's just too long and gives the impression of Chinese food. These meatballs are derived from the Pennsylvania Dutch specialty Ham Balls which you can find at the many smorgasbord restaurants in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
It was at Yoders Family Restaurant that I tried Ham Balls over 15 years ago. After finding them shockingly delicious, I had to make them at home so I bought a local PA Dutch cookbook, Weavertown School Family Cooking. There are 3 different Ham Ball recipes and 4 Ham Loaf recipes in the book all calling for ground ham.
Ground ham has the feel and look of ground beef and I've only seen it in Lancaster County grocery stores. Since it isn't readily available, I decided to give Ham Balls a try using just ground pork so that my fellow Loco Diners can have the opportunity to give this delicious dish a try.
Note: I got 18 meatballs out of this recipe. All of the meatballs would not fit in one baking pan so I baked the additional 6 meatballs in another dish with the remainder of the sauce and the sauce did burn a bit on the edges. Overall they were fine.
You can also make extra sauce for serving if you would like. The sauce thickens and caramelizes so there isn't much left over for spooning over the meatballs when they are finished.
Loco Diner Pork Balls
4 lbs. ground pork
1 1/2 c. milk (low fat milk is fine)
2 cups fine, plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1 26oz can of condensed tomato soup
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tbs. cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350.
Start by mixing the milk with the plain bread crumbs in a dish.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground pork, eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumb/milk mixture.
Mix this thoroughly with your hands. Scoop the meat into a 1/2 cup measure and roll into a ball. The meatballs will be quite large. It is also a good idea to use a disposable baking tin for this because the sauce will caramelize and can possibly burn making it difficult to clean out of a baking dish.
For the sauce, empty the tomato soup into your pot. Add the brown sugar, dry mustard and vinegar and whisk this together. Bring this to a low boil.
When the sauce is ready, ladle it over the meatballs.
I was very pleased with the results. While they did vary in taste from the actual Ham Ball, these were quite similar. When cut, they were juicy and tender with a nice amount of sweetness. Before I shared this recipe with you, I tested the meatballs with everyone at my house and they were a big success. Try serving these with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes and a veggie of your choice!
Reference: The Weavertown School Family Cooking Cookbook, pages 116-118