Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who Cut the Cheese


I read an article in the food section of my local newspaper a month or so ago about how Cheese Ball has a bad wrap. In my family Cheese ball is a coveted snack that Mom only makes on special occasions. Christmas, New Years an occasional party throughout the year. Now granted this Cheese ball isn't the classic neon orange cheese covered in nuts. This is a recipe that was passed down to me from my Mom. I have no idea where she got it but once you make it will become your "go to" cheese ball recipe. If you take it to a party it will become what you are always requested to bring.

My Mother-in-law (I 've been divorced for 10 yrs but I always joke that I got my in-laws in the divorce) does not even form it into a ball. A couple of months ago my sister-in- law was telling me how she made " that cheese dip" and how she took it to a football party and shaped and decorated it to resemble a football and that at other parties she has shaped it to fit the theme. I was asking her about the recipe and she said "You know, the cheese dip that my mom always makes with the meat and onions and cream cheese!"

"You mean Cheese Ball? Your Mom got that from my Mom when I was dating your brother!" Then I busted out laughing. See, I don't think recipes are meant to be guarded. I think they are meant to be shared. ,I find nothing more flattering than someone making something that I have made for them that they liked. Plus, this frees me up to make something new for them!

But I digress, in my family we don't think orange cheese with nuts when someone says cheese ball. This is one of the first thing my kids ask me if I am going to make for the holidays.

It's very easy, though requires a bit of chopping. This step is faster if you have one of these food chopper thingys.


You probably could also pulse it a few times in a food processor and get a pretty good result but for years I tediously diced the meat into perfect little squares (I am over that now). Over the years I have tried different types of meats in it. All of them taste good ,but I find Pastrami to be my favorite. Sometimes they don't have that so I usee I use Corned beef as my second choice. When my Mom started making it she used 2 packets of the "Budding" beef. ( you know the inexpensive hanging envelope type packets of very thin sliced meat) but I find that one package (8oz) of the "deli selects" is the perfect. You should make this at least an hour before you serve it to give the flavors time to marry but it can be made 2 days in advance (good luck keeping everyone out of it).

Mom's Cheese Ball

8 oz thin sliced Pastrami or Corned beef

2 Pkgs cream cheese, softened

2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

2 bunches Green Onions

Finely chop onions (all of white and about bottom third of green). Place in bowl with Cheese and worcestershire. Finely chop all of meat and add 1/2 to bowl (reserving half) Mix together well and using a spatula bring mixture together to begin to form a ball (does not have to be perfect at this point) Spread remaining meat out on large cutting board. Turn cheese out onto meat and begin rolling around to cover in meat. Once most of meat is covered shape into a nice ball and place on a plate you can the use your fingers to place small bits of meat to cover gaps and make it look pretty. (Remember the bottom will not be seen). Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Serve with crackers. Wheat thins are my favorite but Club and Triscuts are very good with it also.


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