A Classic Southern Party Snack

Dec 13, 2016

Looking for a tasty yet easy dish to bring to your next Holiday party?

Credit Perre Magness

Consider a classic Southern cheese ball!

This cheesy appetizer has been a party favorite for decades.

Perre Magness, author of “Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook” and “The Runaway Spoon” blog explains some of the reasons why.

“I think cheese balls are infinitely adaptable, easy, they feed a big crowd, you can divide a recipe in half and make two for two parties, and who doesn’t like cheese spread on crackers?!”

And … how simple is it to make one?

“One of the great things about a cheese ball is how easy it is to make. If you have a food processor, you can grate cheese on the grating blade, switch out to the regular blade, blend everything up, mold your cheese ball, roll it in nuts, wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it the refrigerator for up to a week.”

Perre has some tasty ideas on what to put in your cheese ball.

“Really you can use any cheese. I like to use cream cheese as a binder. One favorite is blue cheese, cream cheese, a little port wine, dried cranberries and you roll it in walnuts. And that has a nice sort of Fall and Winter feel. Another great one is Cheddar cheese, mango chutney, and curry powder for a little sort of Indian twist.”

And of course, one of Perre’s favorites is made with pimento cheese!

“Well, I think nothing is more Southern than pimento cheese and then the classic Southern cheese ball. So I like to add pecans and bacon and a little parsley to make it pretty. Sometimes I do it as a little pimento cheese truffles, which are in the cookbook, that you can serve with a toothpick. But you can also make it into one big pretty ball in the middle of a platter.”

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish.  Happy Holidays!

For more information and recipes from Perre, visit www.therunawayspoon.com.

“Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook” is available wherever fine books are sold.

Bacon Pimento Cheese Truffles

I’ve been making a pimento cheese ball rolled in bacon and pecans for years.  It is an easy, stand-by take-to-a-party dish.  Then I was invited to a party that called for something slightly more interesting than a standard cheese ball, so I fancied it up a bit, making little bite-sized truffles served on fancy cocktail picks.

  • 10 strips of bacon
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 Tablespoon bacon fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the bacon strips on the rack.  Cook the bacon until very crispy, 20 – 25 minutes.  Pat the bacon strips on both sides with paper towels to blot any fat. Leave to cool.

Break 5 strips bacon into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add ½ cup pecan halves and the parsley. Process until the bacon and pecans are the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Scoop the crumbs out onto a flat plate.

Switch to the grating blade and grate the cheddar cheese.  Switch back to the metal blade, add the cream cheese, cut into cubes, the remaining bacon, broken into pieces, the remaining ½ cup pecans, the bacon fat, chives, salt and paprika. Process until the cheeses begin to come together, then add the pimentos. Process until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Use your clean hands to shape the cheese mixture into small balls, then roll the cheese truffles in the bacon crumbs, pressing them into the sides of the balls.

Refrigerate until firm.  The cheese truffles can be made up to three days ahead. 

Serve with toothpicks or in the center of round crackers.

Makes about 25 truffles

Tip: This recipe can also be made as one large cheese ball.

Printed with permission from “Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook” by Perre Coleman Magness