Perre Coleman Magness is the author of Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors, published this fall by UNC Press. You can follow her on Twitter.
Here she shares a favorite recipe for your holiday get-together. Southern Snacks is available now in both print and ebook editions.
(And, during our Holiday Gift Books Sale, you can get Southern Snacks for 40 percent off! Just use the promo code 01HOLIDAY at checkout.)
Savory cheesecakes are a thing. I’ve had them at parties all my life. When I submitted the manuscript for Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook to my New York–based publisher, the editors and copy editors were sure that a pimento cheese cheesecake would cause great confusion. When I first conceived this salty, savory, country ham version, I knew it would be good, but in truth, it is better than good. It even surprised me. The added bonus of this treat is that it serves a crowd. And a little pepper jelly on the side is not a bad thing.
Country Ham Cheesecake
Serves a crowd
1 sleeve buttery crackers (such as Townhouse), about 34 crackers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces center-cut country ham biscuit slices
4 green onions, white and light green parts
1 clove garlic
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1¼ cups sour cream
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous grinds of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Wrap a piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to catch any dripping butter from the crust.
Process the crackers and pecans to fine crumbs in a small food processor. Add the melted butter and process until it all comes together. It will be very wet—don’t worry. Press the crumbs onto the bottom of the springform pan, pressing a little bit up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
Wipe out the food processor bowl, then add the ham pieces, green onions, and garlic and pulse to chop everything very finely. You want all the ingredients chopped but not blended to a paste. Beat the cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the grated cheddar and beat until combined. Add the Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Beat in the ham mixture until evenly distributed and combined.
Spread the filling evenly over the crust, smoothing the top. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes, until completely firm and lightly browned on top. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, release the springform ring and transfer the cheesecake to a platter.
Serve with crackers.
From Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors by Perre Coleman Magness
Copyright © 2018 Perre Coleman Magness