My husband puts up with a lot as a reluctant curd-spouse. The cheese drawer that overflows onto three shelves of our refrigerator, the endless responses of “no” to his query of “will I like that?”, the abandonment when Jill and I trot off on extended cheese-binges. Sure, occasionally he benefits from cheeses he does like, and he may have voluntarily had second helpings of a goat cheese for the first time ever as a result of said Wisconsin jaunt. But mostly he just watches and worries over our two children’s growing obsession with fine cheese. (Those two tots had to be distracted with candy lest they devour our Christmas platter of Pleasant Ridge Reserve before the adults could get to it.)
And so for my entry in our 2011 Cheese Ball Invitational, I set out to create my husband’s version of the ultimate ball. Smoked cheese, yes — Apple Walnut Smoked Promontory from Beehive Cheese Co. to be precise. There would be bacon, of course, and bourbon. A dash of Tabasco to bring it all together. He could probably do without the toasted pecans, but they seemed the logical outer layer given the ball’s Southern bent. And behold: the ManBall was born. Serve it with bourbon, neat. (For the ladies out there, myself included, who prefer bourbon as a mixer, I’ve included my Ginger Bourbon Smash recipe below.)
Recipe: Bourbon Bacon Cheeseball
- 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) Promontory or other smoked cheddar, shredded
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 4 slices thin-cut, applewood-smoked bacon
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- Set shredded cheese and cream cheese out and allow to come to room temperature while prepping the other ingredients.
- Toast chopped pecans in a dry frying pan for several minutes, until fragrant. Remove and let cool.
- Fry bacon until crisp. Remove to paper-towel lined plate to cool, then finely chop and set aside.
- Place cream cheese and shredded cheddar in food processor and mix until well combined. Add bourbon and Tabasco and mix until incorporated. Add bacon and pulse several times.
- Remove cheese mixture and shape into a ball. Roll in toasted pecans, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Serve with crackers and bourbon. Makes 1 ball.
(Click more for the cocktail recipe.)
Ginger Bourbon Smash
Adapted from Eric Ripert, originally published at FoodieTots
1 ounce ginger simple syrup (see below)
2 ounces bourbon
2 slices lemon
2 slices fresh ginger root
Muddle lemon and ginger in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add ginger syrup and bourbon, shake with ice and strain into cocktail glasses over ice cubes. Garnish with lemon peel and sliver of fresh ginger. (Makes 1.)
Ginger Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2-inch peeled piece of fresh ginger, sliced
Place ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. Cover and reduce to low simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool.
Cheers to you & yours this New Year’s Eve — see you in 2012!