Which is why in this day of aspirational organic, local, vegan, sustainable, nose-to-tail eating, I think a little honesty about what tastes good and satisfies the soul is important. And that's why I'm sharing my No. 1 pick for great Super Bowl party food, a trashy, delicious little recipe for sausage meatballs I got from my Aunt Mert.
I made them twice this Thanksgiving for a tony northern crowd, and I served them right alongside smoked salmon and caviar. The sausage balls were scarfed up while the more sophisticated offerings were ignored. They are spicy, savory, salty and full of protein, so they are the perfect pairing for the beer that typically flows on Super Bowl Sunday!
The simplest southern sausage meatball recipe is three ingredients — bulk hot breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese and Bisquick. They are so simple that even someone who can't boil water can make them! All you need is a bowl and a fork (or clean hands) to mix everything together and a baking sheet to cook them on.
If you don't like spicy foods, you can leave out the cayenne, but I think it helps balance the richness of the meatballs. I also use the sharpest cheddar that I can buy and prefer to grate the cheese myself because it seems to melt better. If you prefer Italian flavours, you can adapt the recipe and use bulk hot Italian sausage and substitute 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for 1/4 pound of the cheddar.
SPICY SAUSAGE MEATBALLS
You can prep this recipe in advance. Follow through the step of forming the meat mixture into balls, then arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, store in plastic bags. Cook frozen meatballs as directed, but increase oven time to 35 minutes.
Start to finish: 40 minutes (15 minutes active)
Makes 36 meatballs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound loose spicy sausage meat
Heat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, butter, garlic and cayenne. Set aside.
In a second large bowl, use your hands to mix together the cheese, sausage and eggs until well combined. Add the flour mixture and mix for several minutes to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Pinch off about 1/4 cup of the mixture and roll into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Nutrition information per meatball: 110 calories; 60 calories from fat (55 per cent of total calories); 7 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 6 g protein; 220 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."