Ham Cakes

Or croquettes, if you prefer.

This recipe was a popular way to economize by using leftovers. Here’s an example from the September 9, 1917 edition of the Boston Globe:

Ham Cakes

I make little meat balls or cakes, flattened on each side a little and fried nice and brown. Put in a little milk and a piece of butter, little salt into the mashed potato, then your chopped ham, shape the cakes with your hand. These are nice for a change. Hope I have helped you some.



It reminds me of a recipe on my shelf in the “Family fare: food management and recipes” booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released in 1950 as Home and Garden Bulletin No. 1.

Ham croquettes

2 cups ground cooked ham
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon water
1 egg, beaten
Fine dry crumbs
Fat for frying

Combine ham, potatoes, onion, and parsley. Add salt and pepper. Shape into eight croquettes.

Add water to egg. Drip croquettes into egg and roll in crumbs.

Brown the croquettes in a fry pan, french-fry or bake them.

Pan-fried. — Brown croquettes in a little hot fat, turning to form a good crust all over.

French-fried. — Half fill a deep kettle with oil or melted fat. Heat to 375 deg. F. (hot enough to brown a 1-inch cube of bread in 40 seconds). Place croquettes in a wire frying basket and cook in the hot fat until browned–3 to 5 minutes.

Baked. — Shape mixture into flat cakes and dip in egg and roll in crumbs as above. Place in greased pan and bake 400 deg. F. (hot oven) until browned on the bottom. Turn and brown other side.

4 servings.

Menu suggestion

Serve with glazed sweetpotatoes, asparagus, pineapple and banana salad, and gingerbread.


I confess, however, that the 1950s fabulousity is only half the reason I love this booklet. The stamp on the cover reads, “Cecil M. Harden, Member of Congress, 6th District, Indiana.” Harden was a Republican.

Knowing nothing else, you’re likely to picture someone like Cecil B. DeMille or Cecil Fielder or Cecil Day-Louis (Google it, get some culture). But this isn’t Cecil as in SEE-Sil, it’s Cecil as in Seh-SEAL.

Cecil Murray Harden was the first (and until 2013, the only) female member of congress elected from Indiana. She served five terms, from 1949 to 1959, and was a teacher before running for congress.

The Evening Independent‘s January 28, 1949 edition reported that Harden “does all her own cooking and baking, is proud of her chicken and dumplings and her angel food cake. She is fond of knitting, crocheting, and working on needlepoint.”

Crocheting and cooking? Maybe I should run for congress!

From the box of A.D. from Lutz, Florida, by way of Pennsylvania in the 1940s, and originating in Ohio in the 1920s.

Ham Cakes

1 cup chopped boiled ham
2 cups of bread crumbs
2 eggs,
pepper and salt, enough
milk to make quite moist

Place on a frying pan in spoonfuls and turn as pancakes.

Mashed potatoes may be used instead of bread crumbs if desired.

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