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Classic cheese ball

 Classic cheese ball

The cheese ball is an American party food classic. It's a little retro, but retro food is fun, and a cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily posh up and adapt to use your favourite cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.

In its original incarnation, the classic cheeseball contained cream cheese, fairly boring cheddar (typically the pre-shredded stuff you buy in a packet), onion, pimento, and Worcestershire sauce, all of which were mixed together, shaped into a ball, and rolled in chopped nuts.

In recent years, however, there's been a revival of the cheese ball with clever cooks taking advantage of more thoughtful flavour combinations like feta and pine nuts and blue cheese and dates. When you use good cheese and experiment with herbs, spices, dried fruits, and toasted nuts, a cheese ball can become more than the sum of its parts.

I'm sharing below the recipe for my family's classic cheese ball. Use it as a starting point for riffing. I recommend always including the cream cheese as it's pretty essential for binding the ingredients. But do try swapping out the cheddar for other favourite cheeses, adding herbs and spices, rolling in herbs instead of (or in addition to) the nuts.

In the picture shown I've used a combination of cream cheese and Wensleydale cheese with chopped cranberries, rolled in toasted pistachios.

Classic Cheese Ball

  • 200g cream cheese
  • 200g cheddar cheese, grated (feel free to swap it for other cheese or a combination of cheeses)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped pimento
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • chopped pecans

Method

  1. Mix together the cream cheese and cheddar until well blended (you can use a food processor for this). Add all of the other ingredients except pecans and stir until combined.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes then shape into a ball (it might help to put all of the mixture in clingfilm and use that to shape your ball). Roll the ball in the pecans. Serve with crackers (always crackers!).

What to drink: Given cheeseball is party food I recommend party wine with it. A soft juicy red like a merlot or a sauvignon blanc would both work well

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