While my mom grew up here in Pittsburgh, the vast majority of her extended family is located in the Chicago area. My grandfather was the only one of his siblings to settle in this area after they all immigrated here from Italy; he fell in love with my grandma and stayed (awww!), working in the coal mines. The rest of his family continued west and settled outside of Chicago, taking factory jobs there. The family stayed close, and my mom grew up making multiple trips to Chicago each year. When I was younger, we would take a trip out there each summer to visit my mom’s cousins, and then eventually started making special trips for weddings, too.
During one particular summer trip to Chicago that involved a large family picnic, a cousin whipped together these sausage ball things that I haven’t forgotten since the day I ate them. I believe that hers had wonton wrappers involved, but when I ran across this recipe in an old issue of Everyday Food, I immediately thought of those appetizers.
While I’m a total dip girl when it comes to party food and “game day” food, I realize the importance of some heartier, warm appetizers and snacks when feeding a crowd. I like to go the no muss, no fuss route and tend to pick things that are easy to mix together and pop into the oven when folks arrive. These sausage cheddar bites totally fit the bill. For one, sausage and cheese are usually big hits at parties. And two, you can make these ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator until it’s time to pop them into the oven.
Are you making food for the Super Bowl this year? If so, what’s on your menu?
Bite-size appetizers with shredded cheddar cheese and breakfast sausage - a little spicy and totally addicting!
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 2 cups shredded)
16 ounces bulk breakfast sausage
½ large yellow onion, grated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Add the shredded cheese and toss to evenly coat with the flour mixture. Add the sausage, onion and melted butter, and mix until a cohesive mass forms. Using your hands, break off pieces of the mixture and roll into 1-inch balls (I used a small cookie scoop). Place on the prepared baking sheet about ½-inch apart.
3. Bake until the sausage is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the warm sausage bites to a serving platter, insert toothpicks, and serve warm. These are best served as soon as they are baked, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.