This weekend I joined 3,500 of my closest friends in the annual tradition of the Running of the Balls. If you haven’t seen the Sunset Hills lighted Christmas Ball display each year in Greensboro, you’re really not in the Christmas spirit yet. As I mentioned last year, no one would ever guess the marvelous display that bundled up chicken wire and lights can make when flung high into trees! And on one special night, the city closes the streets and welcomes walkers, runners, bands and choirs to enjoy the display. A couple fuzzy photo’s don’t do justice to the night or the display! But, here’s an AWESOME drone video of the race too!
After the run, we enjoyed cold beers and countless homemade appetizers at my friend’s home in the center of the neighborhood. I attempted a spin on the classic pig-in-a-blanket but spiced it up (literally) with chorizo sausage, quince paste and manchego cheese. And, arranged it in a wreath shape to match the spirit of the night. This recipe is spicy and sweet with the crunch of pastry dough. Most of the wreath was devoured by the time we finished running (I think this is more to do with the deliciousness of the dish – not our race time). I’d make it again without question.
Also, if you missed last year’s Running of the Balls Cheese Balls, this was a hit too.
Chorizo Pig in a Blanket Wreath
- 1 large egg
- One 14- to 17-ounce box puff pastry, thawed
- 1 pound fully cooked chorizo-style sausage (not dried Spanish-style chorizo), halved lengthwise if thick, cut into 32 pieces (about 2 1/2 inches each)
- 1/3 cup membrillo (quince paste) (available in the cheese section at The Fresh Market)
- 1/3 cup grated manchego cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- Pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika), for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two 13×18-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Prep the ingredients for the filling and set aside.
- If using a 17-ounce package of puff pastry, roll each sheet to a 9×12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Cut each piece lengthwise into eight 1 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into two pieces, about 4 1/2 inches long. You should have 32 pieces of pastry.
- Spread the center of each piece of pastry with 1/2 teaspoon membrillo and top with 1/2 teaspoon manchego. Brush one narrow end of the pastry with egg wash, add a piece of sausage, and roll to enclose. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, seam-side down. If you’re interested in the wreath set up – place the pieces close together in a circular fashion. Brush the top of each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with additional manchego and pimentón. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake pastries until golden brown and puffed, 23 to 27 minutes.