The home team: the classic cheese ball, coated with pecans for a Southern touch. The away team: pub cheese made with Irish Cheddar and ale, of course.
To intensify the competition even more, serve the spreads with some bottles of Guinness and some brews from Alabama’s own Back Forty Beer Co. (visit www.backfortybeer.com to find a store near you that carries the beer).
Try both teams, and let your tastebuds be the ref.
Classic Cheese Ball
Makes two medium-size cheese balls or about 4 cups spread
1 pound (two 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup finely chopped pecans
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese with cheddar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a generous pinch of pepper until well combined. Mix in 1/4 cup pecans. Cover cheese mixture with plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 1/2 hours or up to overnight.
Divide the cheese mixture in half, and shape each half into a ball. Spread remaining 3/4 cup pecans on a plate, and roll balls in pecans to coat completely, pressing nuts to adhere. Serve chilled.
To create a football shape, wrap the cheese in plastic wrap and shape into a football. Use strips of mozzarella cheese to create the laces, and pop the whole thing in the microwave for about 30 seconds to melt the laces together, and to the cheese football. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Irish Cheddar and Ale Pub Cheese
Makes 1 medium-size cheese ball or about 2 cups spread.
2 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp Irish Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Irish ale (or any other beer you have on hand)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
In a food processor, combine Cheddar, cream cheese, mustard, cream, cayenne and salt. Process 30 seconds. Add ale; process until smooth. Pulse in 2 tablespoons of the parsley and 2 tablespoons of the chives until just combined. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
To serve: If desired, shape the chilled spread into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Just before serving, roll the ball in remaining chopped parsley and chives. Serve with crackers.
— Recipe adapted from Shop-Rite cooking class, MCT