If this Turkey Cheese Ball seems familiar, you are right. I shared him with you a few years back as part of an ensemble of Thanksgiving Appetizers. This particular appetizer has evolved over the years. He deserved his own spotlight.
While the cheese ball itself has remained the same, the detail in the decorating has changed. Once upon a time, he was made with crackers and pecan halves for tail feathers, a head made from a red bell pepper with clove eyes and a carrot beak. While both are cute, the details are so much better today. Don’t you think?
In the past, Hubby’s office has put on a Part Company Part Employee Potluck Thanksgiving every year. The company had provided a catered “main course” of carved turkey and the usual sides, while the employees have shared appetizers and desserts. I’ve always made the cheese ball. This year I’ll be making my Cheese Ball for our extended Thanksgiving gathering. He travels well.
Smoked Turkey Cheese Ball
2 (8 oz) packages Cream Cheese
6 oz Deli Smoked Turkey
2 tablespoons Chives
1 tablespoon Yellow Onion
1 cup mild Cheddar Cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1-1/2 tablespoons Port Wine
Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Meanwhile, finely dice the turkey, snip the chives and grate the onion.
In a small bowl, beat all the ingredients for the smoked turkey ball until well combined. Shape into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.
2 Mini Orange Bell Peppers (feathers, head and neck)
2 Mini Yellow Bell Pepper (feathers)
2 pieces Bell Pepper Stems (eyes)
2 slices Cucumber (hat)
1 marinated Roasted Red Pepper from a jar (turkey wattle)
1 Baby Carrot (beak)
6 Walnut halves (wings)
Assorted Crackers for serving
For turkey tail feathers, cut 1 Orange bell pepper and 2 Yellow Bell Peppers into strips, trim into shape of feathers. Wrap “feathers” in plastic and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Before discarding the stems, snip two tiny pieces to create eyes. Set aside, but don’t lose them! Finally, cut feet from a piece of orange bell pepper. Wrap and set aside until ready to assemble.
Using the best shaped yellow bell pepper, form the turkey head and neck. (If possible, find a pepper with a nice shape and leave it whole). For beak, cut a small triangle from carrot. Insert a toothpick into one end of the carrot, and attach to turkey face. Poke two holes for eyes into the head of the turkey just above beak. Press bell pepper stems in place in the holes. Set the face aside.
Cut the wattle from a strip of roasted red pepper, pat dry. Drape wattle over the beak on the face. If necessary, secure with a small piece of a toothpick and hold in place with cream cheese.
Slice a round from a cucumber for the brim of the hat. Slice a slightly thicker round for the top of the hat. Trim as necessary to create a Pilgrim hat. Secure to the top of the turkey’s head with toothpicks, trimming as needed. When satisfied with the face and head, set aside to assemble the body.
Remove the smoked turkey ball from the refrigerator, unwrap. If necessary, smooth ball into desired into shape that more closely resembles a turkey’s body, narrow at one end, wider at the other.
Place turkey cheese ball in the center of a small serving platter. Insert tail feathers as desired. Place the head onto the body, press to secure. If the wattle won’t stay in place – don’t go nuts – just go without. Press walnut halves into each side of turkey for “Wings”.
If not serving immediately, wrap completed turkey gently with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready.
For serving, place small platter in the center of a larger platter, surround with crackers and a cheese spreader.