Mama’s Sausage Pecan Balls
“Mama found the original of this recipe on the back of a box of Bisquick, a premixed baking product containing flour, shortening, salt and leavening. According to General Mills, the recipe continues to be one of their most popular. Mama added pecans to the sausage balls, which she served during the holidays and at cocktail parties. I made a few additional changes and developed this “from scratch” version.” – Chef Virginia Willis
Note: This recipe works best if you grate the cheese yourself rather than buying it already grated, which is coated to keep the pieces from sticking together. You can add additional cayenne if you like or use extra hot sausage.
1 cup pecan halves
10 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. solid vegetable shortening, preferably Crisco, at room temperature
8 oz. mild pork sausage, raw
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. 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.
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. 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.)
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, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Serve immediately.
To Make Ahead: 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 350-degree F oven until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen
Recipes reprinted with permission from Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2008. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.
To find out more about Chef Virginia Willis and shop her line of “Southern Pantry” products, visit her website. Her cookbook, “Bon Appetit, Y’all,” is also available on the site for $32.50.