Ham Haystack


This is a delicious way to use leftover ham, or an excuse to buy a ham just for the leftovers. The recipe originates from Mareen Priviet, a South African friend of mine who presented this very tasty appetizer at a dinner party in Chicago many years ago. Because of the ingredients I suspect that it comes from the 1950’s. I have always loved the interesting taste, the surprise of crunch and the fact that almost everyone who tastes this loves it. This makes enough to serve to 20 people, so if you have leftovers you can stir it all together to make a deviled ham sort of sandwich spread. I added a few things to the basic recipe, but it is so very good just the way it is. The original recipe calls for Miracle Whip, something I have never been able to stomach, so I use good mayo with some Meyer lemon juice.  The most important flavor profile comes from Branston Pickle, a chutney like pickle from the UK. You can find it on the mainland in some stores that have a British food section. You can also order it online. The taste is extremely unique and I would not attempt this recipe until you have your hands on a jar of the REAL Branston Pickle. Branston Pickle is made from a variety of diced vegetables, including swede, carrots, onions, cauliflower and gherkins pickled in a sauce made from vinegar, tomato, apple and dates with spices such as mustard,coriander, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper with sugar. Having said all of that, you really must get some Branston Pickle and go for it. Here is a recipe to make your own Branston Pickle, but it is not that difficult to find the original. The finished product resembles a haystack, hence the name. I promise you, EVERYONE loves this and will ask you for the recipe!

Ham Haystack


6  cups ham, in medium chunnks                        two 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese

1 1/3 cups mayonaise                                              3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (you can use other lemons, I just love Meyers)

2/3 cup sliced green onion                                    1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1 jar of Branston pickle relish                                1 cup blanched, slivered almonds


  • Toast the slivered almonds on a silpat at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes watching closely, till golden brown.
  • Stir the lemon juice into the mayonnaise
  • Chop the ham in a food processor till it is finely chopped
  • Combine ham with 8oz. of the cream cheese, 2/3 cup of the mayonaise, 1/2 cup slivered almonds (chop before adding), onion, mint & pickle relish.  Mix well.  Chill.
  • Shape into a cone-shaped mound.
  • Combine remaining mayonaise & remaining cream cheese and mix well (i used a food processor)
  • Frost mound with this mixture.
  • Chill slightly.
  • Cover with toasted, slivered almonds.
  • Serve with crackers or party rye bread.

Remember if there are leftovers, you can stir it all together and make a ham salad sandwich with the rest!

You may even get to see a cute bunny if you make this at Easter

One response »

  1. This is so adorable–and it looks as though it tastes divine. I might cut it in half or so to serve fewer people, but what fun.


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