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Ham Loaf steps in for Meat Loaf on Easter Morning

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I have had a recipe for Ham Loaf for awhile now, and it is quite an interesting dish to serve on Easter, when we may be looking for something besides baked ham as a main dish. It is a well-known sight: the large ham covered with rings of canned pineapple, dotted with maraschino cherries. Baked ham can be delicious, but if it is overcooked it becomes rubbery, so a certain amount of culinary skill is required if you want to serve a baked ham, with or without the bone.

On the other hand, if your Easter dinner is not serving a large number of people, a ham loaf can be quite suitable and delicious. Side dishes should suggest spring, not the autumn holidays in my opinion, so I would add boiled or smashed baby new potatoes, fresh asparagus, new peas and perhaps a salad of spring field greens to go with the ham.

If you don't make a Carrot Cake for Easter, another good option is a pretty pastel layer cake adorned with shredded coconut (tossed with green food coloring) and accompanied by different variations of Easter eggs. I like the candies that look like real eggs, albeit smaller, to lay on top in a coconut nest.

Here is the ham loaf recipe that I use when I make one. The last time I made it was a Thanksgiving potluck, considering that the hostess provided the turkey and I didn't have to worry about it.

HAM LOAF WITH APRICOT SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 organic eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup soft organic bread crumbs
1 organic onion, chopped fine
3 Tablespoons unsweetened organic pineapple juice
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound organically-raised ham, ground
1 pound organically-raised ground pork
2/3 cup snipped dried organic apricots
1 recipe Apricot Sauce (below)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 3-quart square baking dish with nonstick spray that will handle 2 pounds of meat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, eggs, onion, pineapple juice, mustard, pepper and salt. Stir in the ham, pork and apricots and mix well.

Turn the mixture to a clean work surface and pat it into a round or oval loaf. Transfer the loaf to the pan and bake it for 50-60 minutes, or until the meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Remove the loaf from the oven and brush it immediately with Apricot Sauce. Brush one to two times again as the loaf cools to serving temperature.

Using a spatula, transfer the loaf to a serving platter. Serve sliced or carve at table.

APRICOT SAUCE

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups of organic apricot preserves (12 ounces)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened organic pineapple juice
1 Tablespoon organic Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the mixture boils. Use part of the sauce to baste the ham loaf and serve the rest on the side at table.

Don't use your precious living apple-cider vinegar (such as Bragg's) for this recipe. Cooking will destroy the unique "mother" that lives in vinegar like this, so your regular organic cider vinegar will be just fine.

I always buy meat like ground pork at Sprouts in Tucson, where you can find humanely-raised meat both fresh and frozen. They also feature a prepared conventional meat loaf in case you are really pressed for time and need to serve dinner within an hour of arriving at home after work or shopping.

You can grind your own ham by buying a good pound of cooked ham, cubing it and grinding it with a food processor, in case you are stressing about finding ground ham in the supermarket.

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