This Tuesday starts one of the highest, holiest holidays in my family: the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Nothing elicits the mania of eastern North Carolina natives like ACC basketball. I remember a TV being wheeled into the classroom and the games being on while we did worksheets in school. It has always been a big deal.
And, to be clear, we cheer for North Carolina State. After that, we cheer for Duke. No matter what, we cheer against UNC.
So, here is the most appropriate recipe for such an auspicious occasion: sausage balls, like Granddaddy used to make. I have no idea where this recipe came from. Sausage balls seem to be a southern thing, or maybe only a North Carolina thing, though I’ve introduced them to Californians with much success. Many North Carolinians seem to have their own recipe.
Sausage balls are most appropriate for watching ball games, of either the basket or foot variety. Their second use is for holiday functions, such as Christmas parties or Thanksgiving appetizers. I’ve never made sausage balls without some such event going on, though if you don’t cook them all at once you can cook some up fresh for breakfast or a midafternoon snack.
But there is a rule:
Sausage balls are only made in the late Fall, through the Winter, and into the earliest of Spring. We don’t know why. But you do not make or eat sausage balls in the Summer. Don’t question it.
Now then, if you are willing to abide by this rule, here is the recipe. Again, I give it to you as it has been given to me.
1 pound of sausage
10 ounces of cheddar cheese
3 cups of Bisquick
Mix the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. You’ll have to do it by hand and it will take time to get all ingredients incorporated. Keep at it till you have a homogenous mixture.
Roll out the balls into the size you want. Place them on a baking sheet.
Bake in a 425 degree oven until they’re done (usually about 15-20 minutes). They are done when the tops are just a little bit brown and the bottoms just slightly crispy.
Let cool for a few minutes or they will stick to the baking sheet.
That’s it. Take, enjoy, try not to eat too much.
What kind of sausage?
I generally use hot breakfast sausage. If that is too strong for your delicate mouth, use something milder. A few months ago, when put in a pinch, I resorted to using hot Italian sausage. It was… passable, but inauthentic.
What kind of cheese?
I like the sharpest cheddar I can find, shredded by hand. Growing up it was always Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp. Use whatever kind you like, even the pre-shredded stuff. I don’t judge.
Will these produce a lot of grease?
No. Try not to think about why. They just taste good.