Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

There are just some things I MUST have for Christmas and probably the two most important things for Christmas morning are toasted banana nut bread and sausage balls. My mom always made them both. For the sausage balls she used, as most people did at the time, Bisquick, but since finding this Cook’s Country recipe that is just not necessary. I never used it for anything but this recipe, so to not have to purchase it and make do with things I already have on hand – well, it just makes so much more sense to me.

So here’s to my mom and to Christmas morning. D&D_2573

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs bulk hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs extra sharp cheddar, grated (1 cup)
3/4 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

22 December 2017 for Christmas Day brunch/lunch – 375 degrees convection- 20 minutes – turn 1/2 way through – perfection! Need to double next time and freeze half (after baking). They keep well in the freezer for a month or so. Also, grape jelly needs to be involved.

These are also excellent on New Year’s Day morning too. Pretty much excellent anytime, but you get the point.

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

It just would not be Christmas morning without the ubiquitous sausage balls. I love these and eat them from Christmas through January. And then I’m done. I feel like if I made them any other time of year they just would not be special. That may be stupid, but it is how I feel.

My mom made the bisquick version and I did the same for a long time. But honestly, that was the only time I used bisquick and I would end up throwing it out at a certain point between the holidays. Seemed wasteful so when I came upon this Cook’s Country recipe, I knew I had what I needed. This is no more complicated than the bisquick version either. Dead simple.

So once again, one of my favorite Christmas treats, for breakfast, of course. With grape jelly, that goes without saying. Fred always liked mustard with his, but I eat sausage balls like I eat sausage biscuits with grape jelly. I find that I am not the only person to do that and that makes me less like a strange one. I get that mustard works, but I love the sweet with the hot sausage. Then again, I also like maple syrup with hot sausage and that does not make a lot of sense, unless you are me.dd_1705

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs sharp cheddar, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

Christmas Brunch

When I was growing up we had a few things for Christmas breakfast that were basically snack-able. To me that was an excellent thing. Toasted Banana Nut Bread – honestly, to me the only way to eat it. It was crunchy and smeared with some imitation butter that I immediately changed to real butter once on my own as a grown up. You only live once, why the hell eat margarine? Another was sausage balls – we had them served with a side of mustard, usually brown, and my personal, kind of slightly wrong. choice, grape jelly (do not judge until you try a sausage biscuit with a little grape jelly).  There might have been other things, but those are the two that stick our for years and years and years.

I have made some changes for our Christmas morning since then beyond just going with really rich salted European butter, but that was an excellent call on my part, not too many real changes. First, it is not breakfast. It is brunch around 11:00am-ish (isn’t funny how adding the suffix “ish” gives you lots of wiggle room with time?). In past years, I have added latkes which works well with my Christmas soundtrack. The Boy says it isn’t Christmas with out The Klezmatics and he is correct. How this started, I don’t know, but I love to listen to them on Christmas morning – full playlist below. Latkes I love with sour cream and freshly sautéed Granny Smith apples (not applesauce). They are not something I make often, but something I really really enjoy. Another change I’ve made is to make sausage balls without using pancake mix (Bisquik) and just using Cook’s Country’s recipe – superior in every way and with things I have on hand.

So this year, I was trying to sort out what to make and decided that simple and tasty were good enough. I made banana nut bread ahead of time (Banana Nut Bread Challenge) and decided to make sausage, as a nod to sausage balls, and scrambled eggs – super quick and easy.

There is a story behind the scramble eggs and sausage though. As as child, and to a large degree even now, I was allergic to damn near everything. Consequently, I wasn’t fed eggs as a kid – hell, I didn’t get the MMR shot until in my 20’s because the vaccine was grown (yes, back then – ugh) in eggs and no one wanted to risk it. So I never ate eggs as a young kid. Enter my elementary school age, and my mom would make sausage and scrambled eggs and I loved it, but that was the only way you could get me to eat an egg.D&D_1054.jpg

Let me explain how this process works. In a large non-stick skillet, cook a pound of  bulk breakfast sausage of choice (there is only one choice – hot) until it is cooked through. In a bowl. whisk together with a fork, 5 eggs and a splash of cream or milk. While the sausage grease is still hot, add the scrambled eggs and cook them as you would any other scrambled eggs. Serve while nice and hot.

Dead simple and pretty much amazing. Oh, and they really reheat well with a smidge of time in the microwave the next day, but it is highly unlikely there will be any left over. The three of us polished all that off with no problems whatsoever. And some salted butter soaked banana nut bread. Simple, sometimes is the best thing ever.

Prep for Christmas – in all its forms.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving which I enjoyed, but I am glad Christmas is going to be an all-out family party. I love the way my brother-in-law fries a turkey. No matter how many times I roast one (thank you AB for the best roasted turkey of all time! And I should add, the first turkey I ever made in my life), I still prefer a fried turkey, but do not have the nerve (or equipment) to do it myself. Very glad he does.

So here are my plans for the upcoming holidays:

Christmas Eve – just an aside – This is my favorite part of Christmas because growing up we had a smorgasbord (sorry lacking the umlauts and accents). Or at least my eleven year-old version of it. Why my mom let me kind of take over to a degree – although she still did most of the cooking, I have no idea. But that is what happened in my family. Christmas Eve we opened presents from each other and munched on a buffet of all kinds of things that my mom made and a few that I dreamed up. At the time, I realized I wanted to be a caterer, so it is not surprising that I went into event management – not really.

So for me Christmas Eve is meant to be relaxed. Our new tradition from a few year ago is to have Cheddar fondue night with all the things that go with it. In our case, that is apples, pears, grapes, baguette, and to gild the lily, some Boursin (for the baguette, not the fondue). Maybe some Brie or, well, who knows.  I always shop on Christmas Eve to get the freshest things I can find. It is so simple and it can be scaled for however many people you have. In our case, it is small – typically four of us, but fun nonetheless. I am just a bit too excited about this. Oh, and then there is dessert. Whatever kind of cookie I make for the next day – but we hit it anyway. Although after a bunch of fruit and cheese I do not have tons of room. Well, that is what I tell people.

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Sausage Balls – A Southern & a family tradition

Christmas Day – Morning. I am kind of going easy this year. I have my mom’s Banana Nut Bread that I will slice and broil until crunchy and smear with great salted European butter. I probably could just do with that. But I want something else, but something simple. This year, not sausage balls (which are a huge tradition in my family), or latkes which I love more than words, and yes, I might just be being a bit lazy in this department. But there may be just the two of us so I am going with sautéed hot breakfast sausage that I then add scrambled eggs. So the eggs cook in the sausage grease – it is amazing. That was the only way I ate eggs as a kid (long story – see: allergies).

Then the plan is to bake my stuffed mushrooms which you will see and reheat my Sunday Sweet Potatoes which you have seen way too many times, for Christmas with the family. I will have the third batch of Cranberry Horseradish Relish made by then and have more bags of cranberries in the freezer than make sense.  And have put up the pecan/walnut tassies as well – again things that people seem to really like.

So on the 28th, we are having another family thing on the beach – super cool! I plan to make my (yes, you’ve seen it here) sweet potato biscuits with something in them. May try to change this up this year. Probably will not, but … I might. You never know what happens.

I am dreading going to the grocery store today. I have put it off since it’s been raining for days. And the forecast does not get any better until, well maybe if we get really lucky – not likely, Friday for Christmas Day. That said, it will be in the 70’s. Not any kind of Christmas weather and certainly not any kind of candy making weather. Guess I am waiting for January for cold and dry to make Vanilla Taffy or English toffee, or Divinity or even Peanut Brittle. Nothing too unusual in the grand scheme of things. But irksome.

 

Sausage Balls (Cook’s Country)

Makes 3 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour

    DD_0380_b

    Sausage Balls

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 8 ounces bulk breakfast sausage
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Adjust oven rack to  middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne in food processor until combined, about 3 pulses. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 pulses. Transfer mixture to bowl and stir in buttermilk until combined.

Working with wet hands, roll 1 Tbs dough at a time into 1 1/4 inch balls and place, evenly spaced, on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 20  to 22 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let ball cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

**Notes: My mom made sausage balls every year for Christmas (as long as I can remember, and well, that’s a pretty long time now), so I do the same thing, but I use this recipe. No need to have bisquick for the one time of year I need it – these are things that are on hand always. The use of buttermilk is perfect but it does make a very wet dough, so you do need to wet your hands to work with this.

I like to serve with spicy mustard (my dad likes) and grape jelly (that’s for me), but I also read this year that some people serve them with hot pepper jelly – sounds like a plan to me because as soon as it’s cooler (not so humid) I will open the windows and make some jelly with the peppers I’ve stored in the freezer since this summer.

I do use “hot” breakfast sausage and I tend to add a little more cayenne pepper than called for, but I do that on everything. I make an entire batch, bake them, and freeze what I don’t use and reheat them in the oven as I need them throughout the entire blah that is January.

Right now it’s humid and miserable, but looks like it should be cold and frosty. May have to change into shorts. Hello January on the NWFL Gulf Coast (sigh).  I think it’s a conspiracy  – can’t make candy with this much humidity. ugh.