If you own a home near the water–and that includes a pool!–you undoubtedly have a steady stream of visitors that drop by (often) to share that lifestyle with you! What starts as morning coffee on the deck very frequently ends up with an all day or all weekend get-together of family and friends! Serving unique, easy to make and delightfully flavorful food takes those waterside get-togethers from “so much” fun to simply unforgettable!
One of my absolute favorite appetizers to serve to friends and family are my savory cheesecakes. My “Moonstruck on the Bay Smoked Salmon Cheesecake” and “Eastern Shore Seafood Cheesecake” have been easy, crowd pleasing “go-to recipes” of mine for years but both require pantry specific ingredients that are not always on hand. “Sultry Sausage and Spicy Tomato Savory Cheesecake” is a riff on a MoonstruckBayDesigns fan favorite –“Simply Sultry and Sassy Crockpot Sausage Dip” (you have NO idea how much time I spend coming up with these crazy recipe titles–just to entice you to try them!)
As with all my savory cheesecakes, this one really delivers on flavor and ease of preparation, making it perfect for any gathering—cheering on your favorite team during a game, a wild evening spent with your girlfriends playing Ladies’ Bunko, or as your recipe-request-rousing contribution to a church, work or community potluck.
While I’ve actually had some of my guests take a slice of one of my savory cheesecakes and eat it with a fork but I always offer baskets of tortilla chips, crackers and/or crostini (sliced baguettes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and then broiled until just golden on the outside) for guests to use for spreading and munching! I also find crisp cucumber slices a great alternative to crackers or chips for guests following a gluten free diet—for any of my savory cheesecakes!
In keeping with the Southwestern flavors in my “Sultry Sausage and Spicy Tomato Savory Cheesecake” I crushed crunchy corn tortilla chips and Manchego cheese—a buttery and subtly tangy sheep’s milk cheese produced in the La Mancha region of Spain—to deliver a huge wow factor to not only the crust and filling of this cheesecake but also incredible when added to any Southwestern or Tex/Mex recipe including quesadillas, burritos, tacos–you name it.
While you may think that Manchego cheese may sound too exotic to be something found easily—you will find it readily available in your local grocery store or military commissary’s deli department and/or in the chilled cheese case at any of the big box/club stores nationwide.
This cheesecake is great with your favorite beer! But if wine is your thing, pair this one with a cold Rose’–anywhere along the spectrum from dry to sweet will delight! The acid minerality in a good rose’ will not only enhance the salty, nutty flavor of the crust but also embrace the spicy heat of the tomato and cut through the rich, cheesy tang of the cheesecake.
I am a huge fan of a French Tavel and would go out of my way to find one for this recipe but they are not always easy to find so buy more than one when you do find a bottle–you’ll be very glad that you did.
Buen provecho, my amigos!
1 1/4 cups crushed tortilla chips (a little over 1/2 of a 14.5 oz bag)
1 c. Manchego cheese, shredded
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1-16 oz chub of pork sausage (I’m a fan of Jimmy Dean Brand Regular)
3-8 oz pkgs of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup Manchego cheese, shredded
1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (I use Cabot’s–about 1/2 of an 8 oz. block)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use “Diamond Crystal” brand–different brands deliver different levels of salinity (saltiness) so, be aware
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon (I use “Knorr Caldo Con Sabor de Pollo”—find it in the authentic Hispanic/Mexican section of your local supermarket)
3 jumbo eggs, whisked
1-10 oz can of Ro-tel Mild Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1 cup of scallions, sliced thinly and on the diagonal
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350° and line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and center a baking rack (that fits within the rims of the baking sheet) on top of the paper lining. (The oils from the cheesecake can drip and the rimmed baking sheet will prevent oven spills, the parchment paper ensures an easy cleanup and the baking rack ensures that the cheesecake has air circulation throughout it’s baking time).
Pulse the tortilla chips in a food processor until you have medium/fine crumbs In a small bowl, mix together the tortilla chip crumbs, the 1 cup of grated Manchego cheese and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, crumble and brown the sausage. In a small bowl mix together the dry seasonings—salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic salt and chicken bouillon—together and set aside. sauté scallions and sweet peppers in EVOO until just heated through—1 to 2 minutes max. Season sautéed scallion and peppers with salt, pepper, onion powder, chicken bouillon and garlic salt and cook for an additional minute, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat room temperature cream cheese, the 1/2 cup of grated manchego cheese, pepper jack cheese and the dry seasonings mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the whisked eggs Whisk into the cream cheese mixture—mixing ONLY until just combined without overbeating.
Stir in the Ro-tel tomatoes, chopped scallions and heavy whipping cream and then pour the cheesecake filling over prepared tortilla crumb crust in the springform pan. Place springform pan on baking rack on the prepared baking sheet and place in your preheated oven on the center rack.
Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes total or until the center appears nearly set when you shake—like a thick pudding. It should quiver ever so slightly and that’s it.
Remove from the oven and bring to room temperature—about 1 hour on a baking rack. Slide a thin knife all around the inside of the perimeter of the pan and remove the side of the springform pan. Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate—it will keep for 3 days in the fridge. I have found the flavor is significantly enhanced if you take the time to bring a savory cheesecake back to room temperature before serving.
Serve with veggie or salsa flavored crackers, blue corn tortilla chips—whatever you have on hand!
Look for future posts of my recipes for savory cheesecakes! They are the perfect appetizer for large or small get-togethers beside the pool, picnicking at the lake or beach or a real “fan” fave for sharing while tailgating!