One of my favorite things to snack on is cheese and crackers. And with the holidays just around the corner it’s time to think about appetizers. Many years ago I would make a cheese ball around the holidays, but in recent years I found other things to make and the cheese ball became a distant memory. I’ve forgotten how good it tastes and think it’s time to bring the cheese ball back!! It’s not just the green chile that makes this cheese ball so special. Many of the ingredients are grown or produced in the state of New Mexico. It’s so easy to assemble, just pack all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Once chilled the flavors meld together and the flavors are enhanced. It’s addictive to say the least, we are having a hard time saving it for snack time. It’s so good we could make a meal out of it . . . just kidding!!
Here’s the first thing I do, make a verde seasoning mix. The spices are what enhances the flavor of the cream cheese and cheese mixture. It’s important to love the flavors you put into the cheese ball. My flavors include onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, salt and Green Chile Powder. Green Chile Powder is a New Mexico product that I include in many of my homemade seasoning blends. I also use it extensively to make green chile salt.
Next comes the cheese. I chose Tucumcari Mountain Cheese because it’s made in my hometown of Tucumcari, NM. The Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory makes many different varieties of cheese, however it is best known for it’s Feta cheese marketed under the name of Ithaka Feta. I chose to use Monterey Jack and Mild Cheddar Cheese. You cannot order the cheese, but if you live in NM you might be able to find some at your local grocery store. The Ithaka cheese is shipped to many Sprouts stores, we even had it in our Kansas store when we lived there. Small world!!
Here’s the last step and last product from New Mexico. There are numerous Pistachio farms in the southwest part of the state near Alamogordo, NM. My favorite pistachios are from Heart of the Desert. It’s hard to choose from all the different flavors but the Green Chile kernels are my favorite. I can’t tell you how many times I ordered these when I lived in Kansas, but it was a lot!! You can order them here at Heart of the Desert.
Once the cheese ball has chilled and set firm, you can easily roll it in the pistachio nuts to cover on all sides. Wrap the pistachio covered cheese ball in a sheet of plastic wrap and set in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors meld together.
New Mexico Green Chile Cheese Ball
1 8 ounce pkg Cream Cheese, set out at room temperature
1 teaspoon Verde Seasoning, recipe follows (Green Chile Powder)
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated (Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory)
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated (Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory)
1/2 cup Hatch Green Chile, roasted, peeled and chopped (Bueno Green Chile)
1 cup Pistachio Nutmeats (Heart of the Desert Green Chile Pistachio Kernels)
Let cream cheese sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften. Place cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until it becomes well blended and creamy. Add the verde seasoning, grated cheeses and green chile and process on low until all the ingredients are well blended.
Scoop out the cheese mixture onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap around the cheese ball and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the cheese ball is firm.
Pour 1 cup of pistachio nutmeats into a food processor and process the pistachios into smaller pieces. When the cheese ball is chilled and feels firm, roll in the pistachio chopped pieces until all sides are covered. Wrap cheese ball in a clean sheet of plastic wrap and chill overnight. Serve with crackers.
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Green Chile Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
3/4 teaspoon Coriander, ground
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Save any extra seasoning for future recipes.