When it comes to holiday traditions, good food is always a top priority. Our family has so many holiday recipes that are tried and true that we never go without preparing this time of year.
Some type of gumbo and fried shrimp are always the Christmas Eve menu. Even living in Chicago I keep up the tradition and usually my mom will travel from Florida with a cooler bag of fresh Gulf shrimp. Thanks Mom!!
She’s known in our family for the best holiday appetizers like sausage balls, chicken liver pate, cheese ball, stuffed mushrooms and peanut butter balls. I can’t remember a Christmas NOT eating all of these things.
Funny story about the sausage ball recipe…My entire life I thought this was a secret recipe from my grandmother that had been handed down to my mom. I may have told myself that my great grandmother had handed it down to her….
Even the weathered recipe card my mom’s been carrying around for who knows how long has FROM: Grandmaw. Does this mean her grandmaw or my grandmaw? It’s never really been clear.
It all started with the cheese.
Sausage balls (at least in the south) are made with Coon cheese or Hoop cheese (yellow cheese with the red rind). Ask anyone in the Midwest for either and they’ll look at you like a crazy person. Including the people behind the cheese counter.
And NO coon cheese is not meant to be offensive, it’s named after Edward Coon. You can read the history here.
Hoop cheese can easily be substituted with sharp cheddar cheese. Works just as well and its easy to find.
Now back to the legend of the family sausage ball recipe.
It really never dawned on me to Google “sausage balls recipe” to find out the ingredients. What’s the fun in that? And when one thinks they are in the midsts of preparing a generational recipe, I needed that original recipe card from mom.
Unable to read my mom’s handwriting and not responding to a text to clarify what type of Bisquick was required, hitting up Google was the fastest alternative.
Imagine my surprise finding recipe after recipe after recipe! Turns out sausage balls are pretty common AND it’s possible this recipe originated on the back of the Bisquick box circa the 1970’s.
I’ve come to terms with it, but will continue the holiday tradition making sausage balls for my family! A simple holiday party appetizer or serve at Christmas brunch. Sausage balls are always a crowd pleaser.
- 1 (lb) Jimmy Dean Mild Pork Sausage
- 1.5 cups sharp cheddar block cheese (grated)
- 3½ cups Original Bisquik
- Preheat oven 375
- Grate cheddar cheese (pre-shredded cheese has additives to prevent it from caking and sticking together. Potato starch, corn starch and powdered cellulose are the most common.)
- Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl, mixing well with your fingers.
- Mixture will become very crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.
- Place the balls on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.
- Be sure to use the original Bisquick. By accident I purchased pancake and waffle mix which is not the same. Have no experience using the Gluten-free version but may try that this year.
- Purchase block sharp cheddar cheese and use a cheese grater (my favorite type here and here) rather than pre-shredded cheese. Packaged shredded cheese has additives to prevent from caking and sticking together. Potato starch, corn starch and powdered cellulose are the most common. Not convinced? Read this article.
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Do you have any family holiday appetizer traditions?
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