I went looking for recipes to use leftover ham on Pinterest and found a deviled ham recipe that reminded me of funeral spread. For many years my Mom was on the Benevolence Committee at church and was one of the church ladies who prepared food for funerals. We always knew somebody had died when we had leftover funeral spread in the fridge.
The church ladies used ground bologna (we called “minced ham” back then) in their spread. I knew they also added pickles and probably mayo. I never thought too much about it, I just ate it. In our house you ate what Mom put on the table or in our lunches. The spread on Pinterest used ham. I felt nostalgic and so I made the deviled ham. Besides the ham I had a large variety of crackers in my cupboard. We’d use it as pate! “Great pate, Mom, but I gotta motor”. The line from ‘Heathers’ came to mind.
The recipe was pinned from the From Away blog where they share “classic New England recipes” from their home in Maine. I’d guess this isn’t one of the classic recipes as we’ve made it in the Midwest for decades. This is probably used for funeral spread all over the country. Just guessing. Many call it deviled ham. We should probably stick with that name as it’s a bit more cheerful and palatable than associating it with death.
Making the deviled ham is super easy. It’s so easy I could hardly take any prep pictures. You’d be bored looking at the same screen shot as I added one ingredient after another to the bowl of my food processor. So I took one picture of the bowl with all of the ingredients right before I pressed the
kill button pulse button.
I pulsed it several times before I took the lid off and scraped down the sides and pulsed again. I wanted to make sure that one rogue piece of onion didn’t end up destroying the consistency of my deviled ham. No devil onion chunks allowed. The capers may remain whole, that’s fine.
The recipe called for fresh parsley which I did not have on hand. I substituted some chopped green onions to provide the green in the salad to make it prettier. They weren’t necessary for the flavor, so they can be omitted if you prefer.
I spooned the spread into a container, covered it with a lid and refrigerated it for several hours until dinner. I was planning on a hearty potato and ham chowder for supper, with crackers and deviled ham as crunchy sides.
The spread was great! It was so very much like the funeral spread I consumed in the 60s and 70s it was eerie. I guess minced ham was an accurate description of bologna. Once I minced some very real ham with the same ingredients, it was a flavor clone. Eating it on Ritz crackers was a bonus.
I can now cross making deviled ham off my kitchen bucket list. It wasn’t as devilishly difficult as I’d thought. I simply one upped the church ladies and added capers to their soothing spread.
1 1/2 cups cooked ham (about 1/2 pound); chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons onion; chopped
1 teaspoon whole capers; drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (I used a large pinch of cayenne)
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish (I used a dill relish)
3-4 tablespoons curly parsley (I substituted chopped green onions, you could simply omit both)
Place ingredients in the bowl of your food processor (minus the parsley or green onion) and pulse a few times, scraping down sides if necessary. When the are all reduced in size (just eyeball it), transfer mixture to a storage container.
Stir in chopped parsley or green onions if you’re adding them. They do make the deviled ham look more interesting but are not needed for flavor.
Cover and refrigerate the spread for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Even better, refrigerate for 24 hours for best flavors.
Serve cold with crackers or spread on bread for sandwiches.
About 2 cups of spread
Adapted from From Away