Growing up in Texas, there are a few staples I could always expect at my parents’ parties during the winter – homemade Chex mix, cheese straws, and sausage balls were just a few. But after moving overseas, I realized those lovely cylinders of Jimmy Dean sausages are impossible to come by here in Belgium. And as the holidays passed, sausage balls became nothing but a wistful memory. But then, I had a realization that changed my life. . . I could make breakfast sausage!!! (WHAAAAAAT?) I know. I know. While you are telling me to stop the crazy talk, I’m telling you to eliminate all those grizzly images running through your head at the words – homemade sausage – this is nothing like that.
So I’ve included not one, but TWO recipes below. I’ve added the Breakfast Sausage recipe – which can be made into patties and browned on each side to be served with eggs, toast, or a buttermilk biscuit. The second recipe. . . the one you’ve really come for. . . is my Kicking Cranberry Sausage Balls. They’ve got a little more spice than the ones my parents would make, but that’s a bit typical for most of my recipes anyway. . .
Preppin’ – Breakfast Sausage
1 pound (500 grams) ground pork See Pearl of Wisdom below
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 teaspoon (5 ml) brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried sage (salie blad in Dutch)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried thyme
1 teaspoon (5 ml) chipotle chile powder (in Belgium I used 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) of La Morena’s Diced Chipotle Peppers (found at Albert Heijn)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of cayenne
To create the sausage, mix ground pork, cranberries, brown sugar, sage, salt, thyme, chipotle chile powder (or chipotle chiles), nutmeg, and cayenne in a large bowl. The sausage can be used immediately or stored and covered in the fridge for up to four days.
Preppin’ Sausage Balls
1 3/4 cup (225 grams) flour
1/4 cup (40 grams) cornmeal (in Belgium I used polenta)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) finely minced fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons (30 grams) butter, very cold and cut into small squares
2 cups (160 grams) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Gouda pittig kaas also works in NL & BE)
1 pound (500 grams) chipotle cranberry breakfast sausage (recipe above)
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) whole milk (add more if needed)
Preparin’ Sausage Balls
Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius)
Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and rosemary until well combined. Add cold butter with a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands until well distributed. Add cheese, sausage, and milk and mix until well combined. The dough should be soft enough to form into small balls. If it’s too dry, add a bit of milk. (If you use the liquid chipotles, it should be okay. But if you use chipotle powder, you may need to add milk).
Roll dough into small balls and place them less than an inch or a few centimeters apart (they do not grow very much during the cooking process).
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes in oven until sausage is cooked and cheese is melted. The balls should have a nice golden color. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pearl of Wisdom – In the Netherlands and Belgium a mixture of ground beef and pork is offered. (Rund & Varkens). The last time I visited my local Jumbo they were completely sold out of ground pork (these things happen in European grocery stores. . .) and I picked up the mix out of desperation. Turns out my husband liked the result even more. So, I guess it works too.