The Covered Dish: Summer Meat Salads


We’ve had an outstanding week in the Ozarks with lower temperatures and humidity.  The three proceeding weeks had cabin fever dancing at my doorstep.

Summer brings so many wonderful memories from my childhood.  In the years before air conditioning we always had the hot meal at noon and only cold dishes for the evening.


Since there was always a garden our bounty was filled with fresh vegetables.  Frequently mom would prepare stuffed tomatoes with tuna or chicken salad inside.  Other cold meals would feature ham salad, egg salads and meat salads.

They’re full of protein and so satisfying during the hot days of summer.


I’ve been making a great deal of chicken salad this summer and most recently egg salads.  In fact this past week I had the pleasure of enjoying a cranberry walnut chicken salad.  It was delicious and so easy to duplicate.  The ham salads are always made with my hand crank meat processor that attaches to the kitchen counter.  You will never find me making any of these cold salads in a food processor.  The look alone says:  ‘too commercial’.  Not to mention it often makes the salads rather mushy.   Salsas are the same way, always make by hand and steer clear of the processors.  In the end it makes the fruit and vegetables too runny, bruising the fruit as the dish is made.


When I purchased the cranberry walnut chicken salad I seriously read the contents on the outside of the container.  To my amazement the salad had been tightly bound by the use of dry bread crumbs.  Usually I would make some candid comment about doing anything of this nature.  Then I made a large bowl of egg salad.  It needed to be just a little tighter for sandwich making.  I implemented 2-3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs, in an egg salad based upon a dozen eggs.  It was a little wonder tool!  Try this the next time you use a little too much mayo or salad dressing.



While I chatter along about meat salads there is still another strong group who dearly love beef salad.  All it takes is left over roast, tri tip or brisket to make the dish into another regional favorite.


The type of pickle that you use in this recipe is all based on your personal choice.  I prefer a generic sweet pickle.  Though my favorite is bread and butter I still prefer the sweet in this salad.   On the dressing, you select Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise.  One is a little tangier than the other.  Often I find that we’ll choose the one that we were raised on.  For my generation it’s usually Miracle Whip, but I break the pattern because I use the opposite.


Any way you present your ham salad you’re sure to be applauded because of the work involved in making this dish.  They’ll know you love them because you went the extra mile to make something they adore.   Here we go again, I’m going to have to make ham salad this week.  I start writing my columns and the next thing you know I’m making the dish too!


I would be amiss to end the story about my childhood in Lewis County, Missouri.  Since we didn’t have air conditioning until I was 9-11 years of age we cooled off in a more traditional way.  Three to five nights a week we headed to the quarry in Monticello, Missouri.  The natural swimming hole looked like a private lagoon!  It was peachy in my eyes, quality family time and a little piece of heaven.  Usually we ate at home before heading out, and sometimes we had a wiener and/or marshmallow roast.  Everything was perfect until…..the leeches moved into our paradise!  That might have been about the time we got an air conditioner, now that I think about it.


Cherish the day my friends, Simply yours, The Covered Dish.  www.thecovereddishcom


Homemade Ham Salad

1 pound, trimmed quality ham

8-10 hard-boiled eggs

3/4 cup sweet relish or ground sweet pickles

1 cup mayonnaise

The ham of choice was excellent and the need for any additional spices was not necessary.

Using an old fashioned hand grinder prepare the salad.  This should yield enough meat salad for at least 15, two-slice sandwiches.


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