We still can’t believe it’s been 40 years since we first met! It doesn’t feel so long ago when we were packing Jen’s Oldsmobile—she liked her cars like she liked her dogs: white with red interior—filling the entire back seat with grocery bags crammed full of canned pineapple and curly parsley before heading over to the studio. That’s actually how we rediscovered the photos that go along with this sweet and salty spread.
We were thinking back on that time when Linda was absolutely obsessed with Dolly Parton’s Jolene album, specifically the title track. She would get so passionate every time CHUM played it on the radio, reaching over from the back seat, in amongst the groceries, to blare it over the car speakers—I think it would stir up some rather raw memories of her first husband. It became a real distraction as Jen tried to manoeuvre the car down Yonge street one day, and caused her to crash into a stop sign narrowly missing our tiny, perfect mayor, David Crombie. To make a short story long, it was this Dolly Parton album that the photos for this episode were found in.
The Terrific Women loved using ground ham in their recipes. It was one of those secret ingredients Joy liked to pull out of her back pocket to add a little heft and richness to her cooking. If she wasn’t satisfied that a casserole or salad was meaty enough she would sprinkle on a little ground ham, marvelling at the chewy pink rubble bits as they passed through her fingers. Most of the time we could find ground ham packed in a plastic tube at the butcher counter but occasionally would have to resort to picking up a few ham steaks and grinding them ourselves in the Cuisinart. It was horribly inconvenient but the steaks often came with a lovely lemon raisin sauce packet, which could be used for other things, like an ice cream topping or mixed in with a little mayonnaise for a quick and exotic condiment for hotdogs.
Linda and Joy always served party sandwiches when they entertained because it gave Joy a chance to show off her cookie cutter collection. She had shapes for every occasion; angels for Christmas, babies for New Years, cherubs for Valentine’s Day, etcetera. Actually, most of her shapes were of babies but she used a piggy cookie cutter exclusively for these sandwiches.
There are two important steps to making this recipe successfully. First make sure the canned pineapple is thoroughly drained as any excess moisture will make the spread runny. I find the best way to do this is to use a clean sports sock so the tiny bits of pineapple can’t escape as you squeeze the juice out. Save the juice for a later use, perhaps to mix with some vodka for a Jackhammer before your guests arrive. The second important step is to make sure you use a lot of butter before sandwiching in the spread. The butter will act as a moisture-proof barrier, meaning the sandwiches will never go soggy, so they can sit out all night as the party goes on.
1 cup fully-cooked ham, ground
8 1/2 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
12 slices white bread
Mix ham, pineapple, mayonnaise, brown sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Spread 12 slices of bread generously with butter on one side. Spread 6 slices of the buttered bread with pineapple-ham spread and top with a piece of buttered bread, giving you six sandwiches. Use a cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes like a pig or pineapple.