Thursday, September 16, 2010

mama's pecan sausage balls

Still yearning to be a southern belle y'all.  Since the chance of me moving to the south is slim to none I have subscribed to Southern Living and continue to cook through my Southern cookbooks.  I continue to see reference to how sausage balls and cheese straws are a must have appetizer in the south.   They apparently fit every occasion so, I thought why not book club.  These were very good warm right out of the oven but, got slightly hard and dry as the night went on.  I think a dip would be a nice touch as well which I may try with the dozen balls in my freezer.

mama's pecan sausage balls
adapted: bon appetit y'all

1 cup pecan halves
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, preferably Crisco, at room temperature
12 ounces raw pork sausage (mild or spicy)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
2. Place the pecans in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until chopped, but not too finely. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Replace the blade with the grating disc and grate the cheese. Remove to a second bowl and set aside. Switch back to the metal blade.
3. To make the sausage mixture, in the same bowl of the food processor (no need to clean it), combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Pulse to combine. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the grated cheese and the sausage and pulse until well combined.
4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the reserved pecans and, using your hands, press the dough together until well combined. (The dough will be very crumbly.)
5. To form the balls, using a small ice cream scoop and your hands, shape the mixture into 1-inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until browned, 15-18 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Serve immediately. 

The balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To serve, let the balls come to room temperature. Or to serve warm, reheat in a 350F oven until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.  Freeze unbaked balls, defrost and cook per guidelines above.

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