Cheese is traditional in a Pascha basket. So is pork sausage. So I decided, many years ago, that cheese and sausage balls would go in my Pascha basket every year.
I’d make a big batch, leave a small bowl of them at home for us to have with breakfast on Pascha morning, and take the rest to church in my basket. After the Paschal liturgy, the priest would bless the baskets, and we’d take the food to the parish hall for a huge pot-luck party. And by the end of the party after the Pascha liturgy, my basket would be empty of everything except the crumbs.
Until I moved to the Pacific Northwest. The first year I took cheese and sausage balls to the pot luck, they sat on the table, ignored. I think I took all of them home with me. Which wasn’t a bad thing. Cheese and sausage balls are fabulous reheated for breakfast the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
I thought about not making them the next year, but my kids wouldn’t hear of it. For them, cheese and sausage balls were an invariable part of Pascha. So I made them. And that year, at the pot luck, a few brave people tried them.
And the next year, and every year after that, the basket was cleaned out. People started looking for them, expecting them to be on the table, looking forward to them. The same way my kids looked forward to them all year long.
Cheese and sausage balls
To make Holy Saturday easier, you can mix and shape the cheese and sausage balls up to two weeks in advance and freeze them for easy cooking on Pascha. When baking from frozen, drop the temperature to 350F. They’ll take just a bit longer to bake, but they’ll be just as good.
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound hot pork sausage
1 pound Bisquick baking mix
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Mix the three ingredients thoroughly. You can do this by hand, or by using a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you use a mixer, you may need to divide the ingredients in half and mix it half at a time.
Shape the dough into small balls, using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each ball. (If you use a one-tablespoon cookie scoop, you should get about 90 cheese and sausage balls.)
Place the balls about 2 inches apart on an insulated baking sheet. If you use a regular baking sheet instead of an insulated baking sheet, keep a careful eye on them while they bake so that the bottom doesn’t scorch before the top is done.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 or 13 minutes (depending on your oven). Cool on a rack.
You can easily make smaller or larger batches. Just use equal amounts by weight of the three ingredients.
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