Tag Archives: sausage balls

126. Balls–Because Who Wants a Square Meal?

26 Mar

Oreo balls--Not necessarily round.

Oreo balls–Not necessarily round.

In other parts of the globe, these delicacies might be called hors d’oeuvres, bon bons, truffles, and the like. In the South, we call ‘em like we see ‘em: Balls.

The selection of stuff Southerners will roll up into a ball and pass around to friends and relations grows larger by the day. Ten years ago, I’d never imagined one could transform broccoli into a edible sphere that would become a potluck staple. What’s next, kale?

Love at first sausage ball.

Love at first sausage ball.

Much like Southern salads, balls come in two separate, yet equally delicious, groups: sweet and savory. A few of the treats refuse to take sides, so I’ll henceforth refer to them as “swavory.”

Seeing as I like to save the best for last, we’ll start with savory. In this group you’ll find meatballs, sausage balls (yes, sausage is a meat, but these are two entirely different animals, so to speak), spinach balls, crab balls, ham balls (not to be confused with ham rolls), fried macaroni and cheese balls, and the dreaded cafeteria staple, cod balls. I found a recipe in the Bells Best III cookbook for Curried Chicken Balls, which includes mayonnaise, cream cheese, chutney, and flaked coconut. I’m guessing the next time that particular contributor offered to bring a dish to a party, she was told, “We could really use some ice. And maybe a couple of 2 liters.”

3168885199_b4cf60e58f_mI haven’t yet mentioned cheese balls because they represent a whole subcategory of savory. These usually feature cream cheese as the main ingredient–sometimes balanced out with shredded cheddar–embellished with one or more of the following add ins: worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, Tabasco sauce, Lipton onion soup mix, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, minced onions, diced peppers, cayenne, and paprika. Once the desired ingredients are mixed together and shaped into a ball, the whole thing is covered in one of two things: chopped pecans or thin-sliced corned/dried beef.

I’ve run across a few cheese ball recipes that feature pineapple, which fit in the swavory category along with such creations as: popcorn balls, and…well, nothing else comes to mind at the moment. Can anybody help me out here?

Goodness gracious, great balls of coconut!

Goodness gracious, great balls of coconut!

The sweet ball category breaks into two subsections: chocolate covered and not. Amongst the former you’ll find: peanut butter balls, coconut balls, Oreo cookie balls, cake balls, and regular old chocolate balls. The latter group includes: rum balls, bourbon balls, amaretto balls, teetotaller balls for Baptists (just kidding!), pecan balls, date balls, and peanut butter balls (sans chocolate, but why?). Any or all of these can be rolled in coconut, though some probably take to powdered sugar better. Speaking of which, one could make the argument that given their shape donut holes ought to be referred to as balls. I, myself, am not planning to start a petition, but if there’s one floating around, I’ll sign it. Just don’t ask me for a contribution.

Why are Southerners so smitten with balls? I couldn’t tell you. Maybe the bite-size portion makes them easier to eat. However, I’ve yet to run across a Southerner who finds eating to be complicated in any way whatsoever. Ok, perhaps what to, but certainly not how to.

Translation: You're not worth the trouble.

Translation: You’re not worth the trouble.

One thing’s for sure: making stuff into balls doesn’t simplify the operation. Quite the contrary. How much easier would it be to toss some pre-cubed cheese on a plate and call it a day? Or to frost a couple of layers of cake as opposed to dipping a couple dozen in temperamental chocolate? Scientific answer: A lot!

I can think of only two reasons why Southerners go to the trouble: 1. Balls are cute, making for a more-attractive dessert table and 2. We love you. We really love you.

Growing up, one of the highlights of Christmas for me was enjoying the bountiful harvest of my mom’s annual candy crop. English toffee, pecan pralines, white fudge with candied fruit, haystacks, and my sister’s favorite, coconut balls. Once Mom got to where she couldn’t make the candy anymore, well, she didn’t stop, but she pared down the list considerably. Coconut balls were the first to get their walking papers.

One down, 870 to go!

One down, 870 to go!

After a few ball-free years, I decided to valiantly pick up the baton and produce some coconut balls. My reasoning was: A. I love my sister and B. how hard could they be? Seventeen hours into the process (give or take), my mindset had shifted to A. not that much and B. aaaaacccckkkk! That was my first and last attempt to visit that particular torture chamber. However, if you are more patient than I, you’ll find them worth the trouble. After all, in the words of the Steve Miller band: “you got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven.”

What are some of your favorite balls? Please do tell!

Coconut Balls
2 lbs. Confectioner’s sugar
1 can coconut (16 oz.)
1 stick paraffin
1 large pkg. Chocolate chips
3 sticks butter
1 can Eagle brand
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Combine sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and coconut in large bowl. Melt butter and pour over mixture and mix. Add pecans. Chill for at least 3 to 4 hours. Melt paraffin in double boiler and add chocolate chips. Stir until all are dissolved. Roll candy into balls. Dip into chocolate and place on waxed paper.

Note: As usual, the ingredients and directions are a little vague. Use your best judgement. Seeing as folks don’t enjoy the delightful flavor of paraffin as much as they used to, I’d recommend locating some high-quality chocolate melts. In a pinch, you can add about a tablespoon of shortening or vegetable oil per package of chocolate chips to thin the chocolate for easier dipping.

Oh, and one trick my sister and I learned this year: Don’t waste money on one of those fancy chocolate dipping utensils. Just break off the middle two tines of a plastic fork, and you’re good to go!

Photo Credits: Oreo balls by This Year’s Love, Flickr Creative Commons; Sausage Balls by Ezra Pound Cake; cheese ball with crackers by Adrianne Lacy, Flickr Creative Commons; coconut date balls by Christaface, Flickr Creative Commons;

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105. Sausage Balls–Way Tastier Than They Sound

10 Apr

If you’ve never encountered a sausage ball in the wild, you might think of this delicacy as something one would find atop a mound of spaghetti, but you would be mistaken. A sausage ball needs no accompaniment. It’s complete in and of itself, seeing as it contains three major Southern food groups: meat, cheese, and bread.

Sausage balls couldn’t be simpler to make (unless some ingenious person comes along with a heat & serve version). After all, there are only three ingredients: sausage, cheese, and Bisquick. Even so, there’s no real consensus among Southerners as to the ratio of said ingredients. Even amongst my closest friends and family the battle lines are drawn.

Our designated sausage ball maker used to turn up with perfect sausage balls every time. (Which, consequently, is how she came to be our designated sausage ball maker. Word of caution: Refrain from bringing anything especially delicious to a party unless you have the means and motivation to bring the same dish to every subsequent party in perpetuity.)

All was well on the sausage ball front until our S.B. maker took up with someone who was firmly ensconced in the small & greasy camp. Imagine our surprise (and disappointment and complaints) when she turned up again and again with sausage balls that were practically Bisquick-free. Why, Sandy, why?

We suffered through this for years seeing as nobody else could be bothered to step up and take over. Yes, sausage ball making is relatively simple, but it requires copious touching of raw meat. Also, you’ve got to purchase a gigantic box of Bisquick (there’s no small or even medium size), which will take up precious cabinet space for months or even years. Sure, the makers of Bisquick claim that it’s multi-purpose, but I’ve rarely seen it used for anything besides sausage balls or perhaps “homemade” Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.

“But do you NEED Bisquick?” one might ask. “Couldn’t you just use flour?” Oh, no, you absolutely could not. There’s not a brand of flour on the market that contains the all-important ingredient: partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil.

As far as I know, they have yet to start selling containers of that over by the Crisco. And, no, Crisco isn’t the same thing. It’s a unique blend of oil, fully hydrogenated oil, and partially hydrogenated oil. Yum!

My sister finally caved and started making her own version of sausage balls, which through the mystery of evolution became piggies. These still contain the requisite meat, cheese, and bread, but there’s no need to come in contact with raw meat, only meat juice from the cocktail weenies. Though I’m not sure which is worse.

What do y’all think? Do you prefer sausage balls, piggies, or some other meat/cheese/bread concoction that doesn’t involve touching unpleasant food or food-like substances?

Photo credit: Sausage ball photo courtesy of Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake, one of the best-named blogs ever!

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