Kitchen Accomplice

By John Kirkendall

Ham, pineapple and pepper kabobs

I have a treat for you today.  It is an appetizer I can hardly resist.  It contains some of my very favorite things, can be done in advance and makes a splashing display on your appetizer table – the colors, the aromas and the presentation all combine to make this one of those perfect offerings when you are called upon to host an event.

The foundation: meatballs made of ham.  As the meatballs are baking they are removed from the oven a couple of times and glazed.  Near the conclusion of the baking, they are skewered on long sticks which have been soaking in water.  Pineapple chunks are added along with squares of bell pepper. They are finally removed to a decorative platter, cooled and then covered to await your guests.

A receptacle to receive the sticks once the appetizer is eaten is all you need, in addition to the obligatory cocktail napkins.
Here is how you go about it.

Pineapple Glazed Meatballs on Skewers



1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, diced

1 pound ham, diced

1 pound ground pork

2 eggs

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs you have pulsed in the food processor 4 times.

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tbsp pineapple juice


1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp ketchup

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, if you like a little heat

1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water with your fingers until it is a smooth slurry


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Put the bacon and ham into a food processor and pulse briefly 3-4 times to chop fine. Do not purée. Place the mixture in a large bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well to combine. Using your hands, form meatballs anywhere from 1-inch to 2-inches in diameter. The smaller diameter meatballs will make for easier eating if you are making them for an appetizer for a party. Larger meatballs will work well for a main course.

3. Arrange the meatballs in a casserole pan and put in the oven for about 1 hour for 2-inch diameter meatballs, or 30-40 minutes for 1-inch diameter meatballs. These meatballs are pretty forgiving, but look for an internal temperature of about 165° or so.

4. Make the glaze when you put the meatballs in the oven. Mix all the ingredients except the corn starch in a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk in the corn starch and simmer 1-2 minutes.

5. Baste the meatballs once they have cooked for 20 minutes, then again at 10 minutes and 20 minutes if you are making small meatballs, and then again at 5 minutes before they’re done.  At the last baking, place the meatballs on wooden skewers together with a chunk of pineapple and a square of bell pepper and brush those, too, with the glaze.  The order: put the pineapple chunk on first, the pepper next and top with the glazed meatball.   Finish baking.

Serve on the kabobs.

Makes 40 large marble sized meatballs (the very biggest marble, half the size of a ping pong ball.)

Judge Kirkendall is a retired Probate Judge. He presently serves on the Elder Law Advisory Board of the Stetson University College of Law. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. I am (thankfully) past president of the National College of Probate Judges. He can be reached at


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