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Sausage Balls – A Family Christmas Tradition
by Tryna Fitzpatrick
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without… ?
How would you complete this sentence?
Maybe for you it “just wouldn’t be Christmas” without – snow. Or grandpa’s funny hat. Or mom’s special egg nog. Or the 5am, 75% off sales bonanza at the outlet mall.
For us, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without SAUSAGE BALLS.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we love sausage balls so much that we can’t live without them. We aren’t sausage ball fanatics. We don’t worship a Sausage Ball God or wave Sausage Ball flags. In fact, I tend to think they are more like a greasy fat pill than a viable food choice. And since becoming “mostly” Vegetarian, my sausage balls omit a very important ingredient… sausage.
Anyway, the reason that “it just wouldn’t be Christmas without Sausage Balls” is because someone has made them every Christmas eve for as long as I can remember so that they could fester in a crock pot next to the tree on Christmas morning. To our family, the smell of sausage balls, the taste of sausage balls, and the sight of sausage balls is as synonymous with Christmas as Santa and the Baby Jesus.
Case in point: Christmas 2007.
For the first time ever, the whole family decided to celebrate Christmas at our home on Hilton Head Island. This meant that all of our West Virginia relatives were out of their comfort zones having been displaced to a new world covered in golf course turf and Lilly Pulitzer. So, it wasn’t until late Christmas eve when we realized we had forgotten to make the sausage balls. The infamous ’07 Christmas meltdown began soon afterward. People were confused. Anxious. They were getting all itchy and scratchy at the thought that they wouldn’t get their Christmas morning sausage ball fix.
We started calling the grocery stores with the hopes that one, somewhere, would be open. At 9pm on Christmas eve? Fat chance. This is, after-all, Hilton Head Island, land of the ‘Lowcountry lifestyle’, which basically means: stuff is closed.
Not to worry. Hilton Head is a friendly place! We turned to our friends – starting with the ones who owned restaurants. They MUST have sausage, right? No luck. Sausage is not a big menu item at Scott and Maryanne’s San Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant.
The family was really losing sausage-ball-hope now. Should we just cancel Christmas? We considered it.
Then – a ray of hope! A neighbor (and Hilton Head’s favorite dentist) heard about our plight and showed up at our door with sausage. But not the Jimmy Dean roll of slightly spicy pork variety. Oh, no. Instead, the dentist brought us sweet, free range, organic, grass-fed, humanely-raised, hand-cut, gourmet sliced ITALIAN sausage, (because – HILTON HEAD). Would that work? At this point, it didn’t matter. We were willing to try anything. We grabbed the Bisquick. We grabbed the sausage. We grabbed the … Uh-oh – no cheese.
“Don’t worry,” shouted Uncle Mitch as he jumped up and bounded to the guest room. He returned, breathless with exult, as he presented the can of beef jerky flavored Cheese Whiz that he had retrieved from his suitcase.
Well, I guess that will do, Uncle Mitch. That will do.
In the end, we managed to make our sweet Italian, Cheese Whiz, beef jerky humanely-raised sausage balls and, even though they were incredibly disgusting, Christmas went on and all was right with the world.
~ (c) Tryna Fitzpatrick, (This story was originally featured in Wonderful West Virginia Magazine and the Herald Dispatch, 2007. Republished with permission by the author.)
Our Family Sausage BallS Recipe
(The real recipe.)
- 1 lb. sausage (Jimmy Dean sausage will work)
- 8 oz. stick sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 c. Bisquick
Mix and roll in small balls.
With your hands, knead all the ingredients together in a bowl.
This may take awhile to fully moisten the Bisquick and the cheese. You can add a little splash of milk to help moisten
Form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees until brown, about 15-20 minutes.
After removing from oven, place on paper towel to drain.
We like to put them in a crock pot for serving. It not only keeps them warm but also moist.