Bits and Pieces Party Cheese Ball
The cheese ball is a stalwart of the Midwest cocktail party, where it can be fashioned from processed Cheddar cheese and port wine, or pineapple and cream cheese. This recipe relies on the leftover ends of good cheese or even just one kind of good-quality, sharp cheese like Gruyère. The idea of adding butter comes from Vivian Howard, the North Carolina chef who features a cheese ball with blue cheese, chopped dates and bacon in her cookbook "Deep Run Roots." She calls hers a party magnet, and indeed, for all of the shade thrown at cheese balls, they are often the first thing to be eaten. They can be served with chutney, jam or simply alongside the best-quality crackers you can find.
- Serves: 1 person
- 4tablespoons good-quality salted butter
- 1cup shredded sharp, flavorful cheese, in any combination that might include Gruyère, Cheddar or blue cheese
- 3ounces fresh goat cheese
- 4ounces cream cheese
- 1heaping tablespoon finely chopped scallions
- ¼teaspoon cayenne
- ¼teaspoon fish sauce
- 1tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓cup chopped, salted roasted pecans
- 1heaping tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Step 1Allow the butter and cheeses to come to room temperature. They should sit out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2Put everything except the pecans and parsley in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. It should take about 4 minutes.
Step 3Plop the mixture onto a piece of waxed paper and gently form into a ball. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until firm enough to work with.
Step 4Mix the pecans and parsley together on a large plate or a cutting board, then roll the cheese ball in the mixture. Cover any surfaces with a sprinkling of the mixture and pat into the sides until you have an evenly coated ball.
Step 5Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, let the ball sit out for at least a half hour to soften. Serve with good plain crackers or small toasts.