Peggy shares her recipe for Sauerkraut Ham Balls
Teaching at Parkview Elementary Junior High School in the late 1980’s, I had a little Language Arts student in grade 7 who gifted me this recipe, but it was called: Corned Beef Balls. Each year at Christmas, I would get lovely, quite expensive gifts from some student, and nothing from others which was fine, but they would look sad or embarrassed. Therefore, very early in my teaching career I made the “teacher’s gift” policy. No one was allowed to buy me a gift for any occasion, but I asked everyone to please gift me with their favourite family recipe: the one everyone asks for. The “Corned Beef Balls” recipe was written in script, painstakingly by a grade 7 boy, small in stature, with a smile that wrapped clear around his ears. I cherished the recipe, and it became very tattered, as I would read it every Christmas and think: “This is the year I am making these.” And then, I wouldn’t quite make it happen.
Peggy wrote, “I’ve wanted to try these as a shallow fried small patty, but haven’t gotten around to that yet. Provenance enhances the recipe experience, which is why I was so disappointed when I found several people claiming this recipe as their own. I, too, would love to know where it originated. Lynne Oliver, at Food Timeline, has traced a couple of things for me in the past, so I might pester her again. Given the ingredients, I suspect it is a fairly modern recipe.”
Peggy did send me her recipe, in the end, and that is the one I chose to use. There are so many that are so similar, and yet, vastly different. If I live long enough, it would be fun to try them all.
The mixture formed easily into balls. I froze them overnight like this.
Floured, battered and rolled each in panko crumbs the following day.
And froze the entire batch once more, single layer, on parchment paper.
The following day, again, out of the freezer they came, into zip log bags they went, a dozen per bag: dated and labelled. I definitely thought I would make these before Easter. Oh, the plans I had. The entire first two weeks of January were spent filling my freezers with meals for Vanja and Ragan in anticipation of the birth of my new grandson at the onset of March. Yet, with his early arrival February 12, my freezer was plenty full enough for my family! Upon my return March 16, the Ham and Sauerkraut Balls were on the appetizer list for our Easter Family Dinner. No doubt about it.
It was also Ramona’s birthday! Now, you tell me what good German gal would not appreciate a good kraut ball? Or two?
While the gals visited and sipped (Ramona not pictured, above), I had plated the dips: 5 different mustards. I am a mustard fiend. I collect them when I travel. I adore mustard. Left to right: Saskatoon Berry Mustard made in Saskatchewan, Cassis Mustard made in France, Grainy Mustard in White Wine made in Alberta, Champagne and Honey Mustard made in Alberta, and at the bottom, the classic Dijon made in France. The Cassis is outstanding. Unexpected, rare and pairs with so much one would not expect. The grainy Brassica mustard is outstanding. Second to none and a “must have at all times” condiment at our house.
I fried up the balls in no time. Actually, I got talking and forgot about them, but they turned out perfect.
Served with a small fork, but really? Fingers it is!
Mom is deciding what she thinks. Peggy told me that kraut haters won’t know there is sauerkraut in these. That’s how I know I did something wrong. The sauerkraut was the predominant flavour in mine. They were still tasty, but not the unexpected flavour combination I had looked forward to with the kraut being and anonymous visitor to the party. This balls were mighty krauty. I love sauerkraut, so they appealed to me!
The champagne honey mustard paired the best with the Ham and Sauerkraut Ball as the sweetness balanced the salty kraut. (Ramona is my new hand model.)
As with anything deep fried, they are best “hot off the press”! They were crisp, salty, sour and bold. Tasty, at room temperature, as well. This would be a great little ditty served with piping hot cocktail sausages and beer. Perfect for a sports game.
Every mustard was tasty with these crispy critters.
I really enjoyed making them and am absolutely motivated to try similar recipes with corned beef and less kraut. However, I have a truckload of these in the freezer that need to be invited to a party! Just sayin’.
Sauerkraut Ham Balls
This unexpected bite will have your guests pucker up for more!
Ingredients for balls:
- 600 g . cooked ham very finely ground
- 500 g can drained and chopped sauerkraut (about 24 ounces)
- 50 g onion , finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
- 5 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat leafed parsley leaved , chopped
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- dipping sauces of your choice
Ingredients for Frying Sauerkraut Ham Balls:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
- oil for deep frying
Instructions for Day One:
In a large bowl combine ham, sauerkraut, onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs; add cream cheese, parsley, mustard, and pepper and mix ingredients together, by hand
Chill 1 hour; shape ham mixture into small 3/4 inch balls
Place each on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze over night
Instructions for Day Two:
Prepare three containers for coating each ball: flour, egg mixture, panko bread crumbs
Dip each frozen ball into the flour, then the egg mixture, and roll to cover in the crumbs.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet; when all are coated and fast freeze overnight
Instructions for Day Three:
The following day, package in freezer proof ziplock bag labelled and dated until ready to serve
Instructions for Day of Service:
Heat oil to 375 °F in a deep-fat fryer
fry in small batches until golden, about 5 minutes
Serve Immediately with dipping sauce
Each batch takes only 5-7 minutes to cook from frozen if 10 to 12 balls are in a larger deep frier
Now that you can see what happens when a reader shares a retro recipe with me, I hope this fosters confidence in each of you to share more!
Hmm, never had this before, but eating this with champagne honey mustard (which I also haven’t tried) sounds really yummy.
Valerie Lugonja says
Well, that sounds like the perfect reason to get into your kitchen and start cooking, Masa!
As a member of a family made up of Bavarians and Eastern Germans (today’s Poland) I was used to “Eisbein” on top of Sauerkraut which was a highlight (served with potatoes and the German version of Dijon mustard) at birthday partirs where a lot of us came together. Though we did never have kraut balls. This is nothing we are familiar with in the South or East of Germany. I wonder where the recipe comes from, it could be a desperate attempt to have the satisfaction of all the ingredients in the meal but hide them successfully from kraut haters or giving a very simple combination a lift to make it palatable or admissible to have in a “better” household, or possibly a clever way to use up leftbovers?
I can just imagine the yummy crunchiness of the outer!
By the way, my grandmother always cooked a finely cut apple with the sauerkraut to cut the acidity of the bought/ canned kraut.
I will give this dish a try when my next batch of sauerkraut is ready for degustation!
I am intrigued by the varieties of mustard on your plates! We have quite a choice nowadays here in NZ but this definitely calls for experiments (may be the Thermomix can help there?)
With warm regards,
Valerie Lugonja says
Do you own a Thermomix? Wonderful to hear from you and loved to hear your stories. These are the kind of comments that warm my soul. I am going to look up “Eisbein” and probably try to make it, knowing me, right away!
I have seen the Dijon in German stores and will now have to buy some to compare to the French Dijon! Love the tip of the apple with the kraut. Makes perfect sense to me… and where DID this recipe come from is a good question – I would imagine some chef was putting together classic flavours in a bite for a menu of some sort and it caught on? But, that is only my fantasy!
Lovely to “meet” you.
Yes, I do own a TM31 and it was the reason I found you! In the first place! I was a consultant for 8 months until the company was unsatisfied with my results and moved me into the Ambassador Club. I use my TM every day several times and whenever it becomes the topic I get very enthusiastic and passionate! I have been considering TM cooking classes outside TM but there are not many TM owners yet and new ones will have the TM5. My future will be filled with cooking and creating- I don’t know yet though where it will take me!
What a good write up! Your photos make the little balls look most delightful.
I was surprised you found the flavour of the kraut so forward, but yours do seem less pink than mine. I was never sure how much drained weight the kraut should be, and I recalled the canned kraut available in the 60s/70s being sloppy wet so I used a fair bit less in drained weight. Using mild, early season, homemade ‘kraut, well wrung out, with the intensity of leftover baked ham might be other reasons I found the sauerkraut less assertive.
Love the assortment of dippy things you chose, and Cassis mustard sounds wonderful, and unexpected; I will keep my eye open for it.
The recipe is of course just a guideline and happily it is difficult to go wrong with ham and kraut
Valerie Lugonja says
I was so excited to FINALLY post this recipe to celebrate your sharing it with me, Peggy!
I cherish this learning and these kinds of interchanges.
BIG HUG to you!
…It will be interesting to see what variations you next try, after the freezer is depleted of course.
Next time I have enough scrappy bits of corned beef left over, I will try your student’s variation. There are also several variations of ‘Reuben Balls’ online; that classic combination of flavours should be good as deep fried finger food (there are so few things that aren’t ☺️).
Valerie Lugonja says
You are so right – the combinations that are similar are rampant… similar, but so different that each would be such fun to make, taste and create.
They look so good!
Love the Girl with the pearl earring also..what pretty pics..
Ihave to tell you..your mom looks amazing..right down to her fingernails..
That Cassis mustard sounds so good..Cassis is a flavor I enjoy.
I was going to say they could be Reubens:) With a different sauce..
Val..what does Ramona..not pictured above mean?:)
I can’t figure it out..
BTW..I think telling the children NO GIFTS..just recipes..is wonderful.
Valerie Lugonja says
Oh – the Ramona – not pictured above means she was in the room… but not in the photo… 🙂
ANd all the photos I took of my beautiful friend Ramona looked nothing like her, so I didn’t put them in.
Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed comment Monique… HUGS to you! BIG ONE
Mom was complaining about her hands, but I told her the same thing you just said.