Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sausage Balls and the Perfect Recipe

I was 22 when I ate my first sausage ball.

That's right- I spent over two decades of my life completely oblivious to these fantastic little balls of goodness that have been ever-present at every southern get-together I have attended in the intervening years.
That's 22 years of my life I'll just never recover.
Ugh.  That's a hard fact to swallow.

The first time I lived anywhere outside of California I was stationed in Mississippi- which was an eye-opening experience for sure.
I'll lead with the fact that Mississippi is lush and green and beautiful.
I'll close with the fact that Mississippi has the biggest bugs I've ever encountered and more means of preparing catfish than I'd ever considered.

(FYI- I despise catfish.)

So anyway, first I spent four years in Mississippi, then I moved to Tennessee.
There simply isn't a gathering or holiday that doesn't include the ubiquitous sausage ball.

I've eaten enough of them to know what I like and what I don't like.
I don't like a dry sausage ball.
I don't like an overly moist sausage ball.
I don't like a sausage ball that's so pale I'm concerned that it is undercooked.

What I do like in a sausage ball:
Moist but not wet.
The size of a large bite.
Super flavorful.

I may be getting ahead of myself here.
If you've never experienced this southern specialty, you may be curious as to what in the world I'm talking about.
So, sausage balls are fairly straightforward.
At their core they're baking mix, cheese, and sausage formed into balls and baked,

Unfortunately for me, a girl who has spent a good portion of her adult life in the south but not anywhere near long enough to be considered a native of anywhere southern, I didn't have a recipe to work with.
And there are a lot of recipes!

Some use cream cheese.
Some use weird spices.
Some call for browning the sausage first.
There are just all kinds of variations- and I've tried most of them.

Today, though?
Today, ladies and gentlemen, I found the perfect recipe.  I will never ever lose this one!

These are moist but not wet, flavorful but in a traditional way, and the perfect size.
Trust me on this one- keep this recipe handy for your next get together!

2 (16 oz) packages Hot Flavor Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage
1 1/2 C all-purpose baking mix
4 C shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 C finely chopped onion
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Form into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with cocktail forks or toothpicks.

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