By Emily Paster
When my husband was living in New York City right out of college, he threw an annual Super Bowl party, the signature elements of which were a big pot of chili and a sign on his apartment door with the number of the game in Roman numerals. After he left New York for law school — which was the best thing he ever did because that was where he would meet yours truly — a friend took over the Super Bowl party hosting duties, maintaining those two key elements, of course.
There is nothing wrong with a big pot of chili for a Super Bowl party. To the contrary, there is something very right about eating chili while watching the big game. But no one, not even men, can live by chili alone. A Super Bowl party has to have options.You need some small bites and a few killer dips to round the main event.
When I entertain a crowd — be it for a cocktail party, book club or to watch the game — I am always looking to serve bite-sized foods, ones that don't require a fork and knife. As we all know, eating finger food is so much easier than trying to cut into a big hunk of something while simultaneously holding a drink and a balancing a plate on your lap.
A party host's secret weapon for making delicious and impressive hors d'oeuvres, in my view, is frozen puff pastry. I am all for cooking as much as possible from scratch, but in the case of puff pastry, I don't even bother. Making puff pastry is incredibly labor-intensive. The frozen stuff is convenient, easy to work with and produces reliably terrific results for both sweet or savory dishes. If you are willing to pay top dollar for quality, the very best frozen puff pastry is the all-butter DuFour brand. I can find it at my local Whole Foods but it costs something like $14 a package, which is a lot. Trader Joe's puff pastry is also all-butter and gets very good reviews at a lower price point. Most of us are familiar with the Pepperidge Farm variety, but that one contains vegetable shortening so in my view, it is not as tasty.
This puff pastry concoction is my take on the traditional pigs-in-a-blanket. Instead of crescent roll dough, I wrap the small sausages in squares of puff pastry. And instead of cocktail franks, I use mini Apple and Maple Chicken Sausages. The brand I favor is Sausages by Amylu, but you can use any brand you like. We use chicken sausage because we don't have pork in our home, but it has the added benefit of being leaner than pork sausage. And since we are covering this sausage in puff pastry, you might as well cut the fat where you can.
To jazz up my little chickens-in-a-blanket, I add a slice of my favorite Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar and a crunchy slice of apple to each roll. The cheese melts and the apple softens in the oven, leaving you with a deliciously sweet yet sharp bite. I guarantee that your guests will not be able to resist these and no one will miss the cocktail frank-crescent roll combination.
Cheddar Apple Chicken Sausage Bites
- 1 dozen mini chicken apple sausages
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 4 oz. Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar, sliced
- 1/2 of an apple, peeled, quartered and cut into slices
- 1 egg, beaten with a 1 tsp. water
- Poppy seeds (optional)
- Mustard for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 and line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats.
- Place one sheet of puff pastry on a well-floured surface or baking mat and roll out in a rectangle slightly larger than the original size.
- Cut puff pastry into 12 squares.
- Place a slice of cheddar diagonally across the center of a puff pastry square.
- Top cheddar with a slice of apple.
- Place one chicken mini-sausage on top of the apple slice and join the corners of the puff pastry square on top of the sausage.
- Place filled puff pastry square onto one of the baking sheets.
- Repeat until all puff pastry squares have been filled.
- Brush top and sides of each puff pastry square with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds if using.
- Chill pastry squares on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes
- Bake for 15-17 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Do not undercook.
- Remove to a platter and serve warm with a tangy mustard.
Makes 12 hors d'oeuvres. Feel free to double recipe for a crowd.
You can also make these several hours in advance and keep them in the fridge until ready to bake.
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