“Have a nice glass of wine, and take your top off.” – Julia Roberts, on how to have a great Valentine’s Day
Last Valentine’s Day, I made a big mistake. Well, actually, four small ones. A lovely little set of pastel Conversation Heart Mini Cakes. Elisa Strauss (from Confetti Cakes!) linked to them on her blog. My photo of them popped up on other food and design sites.
They were cute, but they were so not for my man. All that fondant? I might as well have shown up for Valentine’s dinner in a turtleneck and sensible pants.
So, this year, it’s not about handmade truffles or homemade lollipops or anything that looks like it would fit right in at the unicorn-themed birthday party of a 4-year-old girl. Nope. This year, Jeff’s getting a huge candy heart full of the culinary equivalent of taking one’s top off: Sausage Balls.
If you’ve never encountered sausage balls – potent little nuggets of spicy sausage and biting Cheddar cheese, held together with a blessing of Bisquick – you’ve never been to a Southern party. You can’t have a potluck dinner, bridal shower or tailgate party here without sausage balls. You most certainly can’t have Christmas. I’m pretty sure one of the Wise Men was carrying sausage balls.
I’m surprised we don’t hang sausage balls over our doorways instead of mistletoe.
Why are they so ubiquitous? Well, generally Southerners have a taste for sausage, cheese and anything remotely biscuity, which makes the sausage ball a flavor and texture trifecta most of us can’t resist. You can also make mass quantities of them for just a few dollars. And the process is simple: dump everything into a bowl, mix it by hand, divide the mixture into balls, and bake.
I like to add a few pulses in the food processor, just to make sure the sausage is evenly dispersed, but it’s important to mix the ingredients by hand before you form the balls. Otherwise, you can end up with crumbly balls, which I’m sure your health teacher warned you about.
OK, let’s talk Valentine’s packaging. If I were a craftier girl, I would have whipped out a glue gun and made my own fabric-covered candy heart box, but I’m not, and I didn’t. I bought the cheapest heart-shaped box of chocolates I could find, dumped said chocolates (you get what you pay for), and replaced them with the sausage balls. Jackpot!
However, a plastic container or paper bag also would do nicely.
Oh, and don’t forget to take your top off.
From Rebecca Crump (EzraPoundCake.com)
Makes about 40
- 1/2 pound ground country sausage (mild or hot, preferably with sage)
- 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups Bisquick® (regular or gluten-free)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, using a fork or your fingers, mix the sausage, cheese and Bisquick until just combined.
- Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the mixture completely comes together.
- Transfer the mixture back into the original bowl, add the black pepper and cayenne, and mix one final time with your fingers.
- Divide the mixture into 1-inch balls (using a small ice cream scoop or your hands), rolling the mixture between the palms of your hands.
- Place the balls on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Gluten-Free Tip: Use Bisquick® Gluten Free®.
Nutritional Information (Per Sausage Ball) – calories: 60, fat: 4g, carbs: 3g, fiber: 0g, protein: 3g. (WW PP+ = 2)