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Iowa Ham Balls Are A Classic Midwestern Riff On Meatballs

Bowl of Iowa ham balls
Bowl of Iowa ham balls - from my point of view/Shutterstock

We're all familiar with classic meatballs, hearty bites of ground beef that are often found atop piles of spaghetti or served as quick and easy appetizers. If you're a fan of this tasty comfort meal, then perhaps it's time you branched out a little and tried a Midwestern twist on this dish — Iowa ham balls.

This meal is a mixture of ground ham and ground beef (and sometimes other ground meats are thrown in as well), which is rolled into balls and cooked in a tasty sauce concocted from a base of canned tomato soup. The dish is slightly sweet with a bit of a tang to it and is also wonderfully juicy.

If you want to try Iowa ham balls for yourself, you've got to know a little bit more about the ingredients that go into them and what gives them their unique flavor. Plus, there are a few tips and tricks to be aware of as you put everything together to ensure that you get a true taste of this Midwestern dish.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Getting The Right Ingredients For Iowa Ham Balls

can of tomato soup
can of tomato soup - sockagphoto/Shutterstock

One of the key ingredients in Iowa ham balls is ground ham. Ground ham is not the same as ground pork and is instead made from cured meat. It is sometimes smoked as well to give it additional flavor. If you're not able to find ground ham at the supermarket, you can just buy regular ham and grind it at home yourself, or you can ask a butcher to grind it for you.

Besides the ground pork, your meat mixture should also contain ground beef, egg, milk, and graham cracker crumbs. The graham cracker crumbs add a sugary taste to your meal, complementing the natural sweetness of the ham. The milk, on the other hand, makes the cracker crumbs soft and adds creaminess to the mixture.

Now, another key aspect of Iowa ham balls is the sauce that goes on top of them. This sauce is made of canned tomato soup, requiring little preparation and making it easy to whip up. It also contains brown sugar to help bring out the sweet flavor of the dish even more. Other additions to the sauce include a bit of mustard and vinegar, both of which help offset all the sugary flavors and add some tang and saltiness to make for a well-rounded meal.

Tips For Making The Perfect Iowa Ham Balls

Pile of Iowa ham balls
Pile of Iowa ham balls - from my point of view/Shutterstock

Knowing what goes into Iowa ham balls isn't the only key to getting this dish right. There are also a couple of things to keep in mind as you put them together. For one thing, you'll need to consider the size. Traditionally, these are fairly large and can be served as the main protein along with potatoes, roasted veggies, or another side dish. However, you could also make smaller, bite-sized meatballs to eat as a solo appetizer instead. Just think about how you plan to serve them and adjust their size accordingly.

Another thing to keep in mind as you make these is how thick you want your sauce to be. If you want it on the thicker side, adding a bit of cornstarch can help you adjust the consistency to your liking.

Finally, once you've baked your meatballs, it pays to know that you don't have to eat them all at once. You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days. Or, keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Whether you decide to make and eat these right away or save them for a rainy day, meatball lovers will be head over heels for this Midwestern dish!

Read the original article on Daily Meal.