Today is National Cheeseball Day, so I figure it's about time to share our recipe for smoked cheese balls! Cheeseballs are great... but SMOKED cheese balls are a whole other level of fantastic, after all.
My recipe is very basic, for a couple reasons:
1. I'm not a fan of chunky textures in a cheese ball, so I don't include dried fruits, meats, etc.
2. For this specific type of cheese ball... even if I did like chunky textures, I don't think the fruits, etc would work as well with the smoking. I think it would just be too much going on. Also, the "wet" texture of the cheese filling soaks up the smoke nicely!
So, it's a nice, simple, but flavourful base that works well with smoke, without competing with it.
In terms of the cheeses used, you'll want cheeses that grate well, not wet or crumbly ones. Also, I wouldn't bother using smoked cheeses, as this provides plenty of smoked flavour on its own. Personally, I like using cheeses that you don't normally see smoked - Mozzarella, Asiago, Parm, Edam, Swiss ... either alone or in combination. Cheese balls - much like Fromage Fort - are a great way to use up odds and ends of cheese in your fridge!
Please note: This recipe requires a smoker that's set up to do cold smoking. The cold smoking aspect is important, as your cheese balls will just melt if you don't have a cold smoker attachment. I suppose this could work in a traditional smoker if you leave out the final smoking, though.
As with many of my recipes, part of this one is pretty open ended: "Stuff to roll them in".
Nuts are common: Usually chopped pecans or thinly sliced almonds (as pictured). Fresh herbs are another option - one of these were rolled in fresh basil. For a nut free option, you can do crushed potato or corn chips, pretzels, or corn flakes. Sesame, sunflower, and/or pumpkin seeds! Finely chopped bacon - cooked crisp and drained well - is another great option, whether on its own, or in combination with nuts or herbs. Whatever you end up choosing to use, just be sure to have it very finely chopped.
In addition to the base toppings, you can add extra flavouring or texture if you'd like - a bit of citrus zest, some coarse ground black pepper, poppy seeds, and/or a small amount of dried pepper flakes.
Basically, just have fun with it!
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