Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Keeping It Simple with Sausage Balls

Keep it simple. Ninety percent of the time, that’s a good rule for writing and for cooking.

What! My brilliant four-page extended metaphor about laundry detergent, spiderwebs, and heartbreak is overwrought! But it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Each image twangs like the dawn’s crimson orb glazing the silken threads with freshly powdered Tide flakes.

Yeah, yeah. I know it’s not all like that, but even the most well-meaning writer can let artistry of language or the twistings of side plot overwhelm what most readers are really there for: crisp characters and a sensational story. Sometimes the extras add juicy depth, and sometimes they give so much depth your readers drown in it.

My “cooking disorder” makes the kitchen equivalent of this a big problem for me.

Let’s say I start with a simple plan to serve our guests Belgian waffles. I mix the oatmeal, multigrain batter; put out numerous jellies, syrups, and honey; and set the table. I look at the clock. It’s 7:00 and no one’s awake yet. But instead of reading the paper or going back to bed, I start brainstorming. Strawberries. Everybody likes strawberries. So I thaw some out. Of course they need blueberries to keep them company. What about bananas though? Soon I’m cooking bananas, cinnamon, and sherry on the stovetop and wondering if it would cool quickly enough if I mixed it with butter. (Mmm! Banana butter!)

Before I can stop myself, I’m making scrambled eggs with leftover meatballs, peppers, tomatoes, and cheese; blueberry cream cheese coffee cake; and a strange tater tot hash with onions, not to mention the original waffles. Then, since one person’s still in the shower, I toss some apple slices in a pan and cook those too.

By the time the last dish finishes, everyone’s been waiting for fifteen minutes. I sheepishly summon the herd of three or four to the table, and because I’m very lucky and have patient guests, this ends well. The food is tasty, tummies are full, and we’re ready to pitch in the leftovers if a dozen rhinos show up at our door.

And while this is great, everyone—especially my wife who's on dish duty—would have been equally as happy if I’d kept it simple and just made waffles.

Today’s recipe does exactly that (keeping it simple, not making waffles). This is comfort food that has a billion variations, but it’s easy to make and tastes good hot or cold.

Sausage Balls

1 lb. sausage
2½ c. Bisquick
½ c. water
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. tarragon
½ tsp. garlic salt

Picture of all the ingredients I debated adding to this recipe. Toooooo complicated!

Picture of ingredients I actually used. Simple=good.

Cook sausage in pan, mixing in pepper, tarragon and garlic salt when meat is halfway browned. Stir often. Finish lightly browning, then drain.

This utensil deserves its own close-up. Mix 'N Chop! Mix 'N Chop!! Mix 'N Chop!!! Thank you, Pampered Chef, for my #1 favorite kitchen tool!

Grate cheese, and mix together with sausage, Bisquick, and water. Cover and chill for a few hours to make dough easier to handle. (Though you can cook right away if desired.)

Shape into quarter-size balls and put on ungreased cookie sheets. (I made mine too big.)

Bake at 400° for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 28 to 36 depending on size.

*For lower fat/calorie version, use lean ground beef, Heartsmart Bisquick, and only 8 oz. of cheese.


  1. 1. I must find myself that pampered chef tool. MUST.
    2. I'm hungry for breakfast, and low and behold I have sausage... and Bisquick... off to cook! Thanks Jonathan!

  2. They're in the oven now. I had to substitute asiago for the cheddar. They rolled up nice even without refrigerating the dough.

  3. Ansha, I don't think you can ever go wrong with asiago. :)

  4. I love the mix and top tool. I have one. I had to laugh when I saw the title of your post. All I could think of was Sat. Night Live's Sweaty Balls.
    This is one you could do camping, also. Yum on many levels.

  5. I need that tool! And the sausage balls look great. Funnily enough, I noticed that Ben and Jerry's have announced the Sweddy Ball flavored icecream. Ew.

  6. OMG those look so good, and so bad for you. I will definitely be trying the lower fat/calorie version though!

  7. Hey, I have that Pampered Chef tool! I love it. The recipe looks delicious, and I think I'll be trying out the slimmed down version of it very soon!