Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chorizo and Gouda Hanky Pankies

When you have family holiday gatherings, does your family have dishes they serve each year? What about whole meals that are replicated annually? Do you have the same meal every year, or mix it up?
On my fathers side of the family we have an annual Christmas Eve gathering at my aunts house, and I'm pretty sure everyone in attendance looks forward to the same thing every year.

Mini Pizzas, Hanky Pankies, Aunt Mare's Squares, Party Pizzas- When I reached out on Facebook to get the "proper" name of the beloved dish my cousins came back with a myriad of options. Hanky Pankies seems to be the most popular on Google.

Whatever they're called, my family loves them. Many heaping plates are served on every Christmas eve, and emptied nearly as quickly as my cousin can bring them from the kitchen. I'm pretty certain a Christmas eve party without them would be a sad affair. 

When I decided to make Hanky Pankies for S, who quite frankly thought they sounded unappealing, I knew I didn't want to use velveeta, which all the recipes I could find called for. I'm just not into processed cheese product. Make no mistake- I have enjoyed many, many hanky pankies with velveeta in them, but when I'm doing the cooking, there are some products I avoid, like processed cheese.

I also knew I wanted to use Chorizo. I love chorizo, in this recipe you want to use the raw chorizo one would buy at a butcher over the smoked, already fully cooked type that comes prepackaged. Either type will do, but the raw one will mix with the ground beef better.

Usually Hanky Pankies call for those tiny square loves of pumpernickel or rye bread, but much searching of my supermarket's bread, bakery, and cracker sections produced no such tiny square bread, so I used regular pumpernickel. It turned out great, I totally recommend doing this in all Hanky Panky recipes, it toasted it really well and was very luxurious and fluffy compared to the tiny square breads.

However, big bread meant cutting my larger pieces in half. If I was serving these as an appetizer I might have cut them even smaller, but S and I ate these for lunch (which was awesome and I may do it again today). 

The final product turned out to be a more flavorful, slightly spicy, very creamy version of the tradition Hanky Panky. The cheese sauce was melty and creamy and a bit nutty, while the chorizo was spicy and bright, and the bread crisped up enough to be sturdy but was still fluffy and just soft enough.

These are a delight. Creamy and spicy and a bit crispy, they make a great finger food for a cocktail party, or tasty appetizer at a holiday dinner party. This recipe makes enough for 1 loaf of bread, and the trickiest part is not eating them all before you serve them.

Chorizo and Gouda Hanky Pankies

4 tbsp butter
1/4 C flour
1 Cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 lb gouda, grated
1 tbsp olive oil 
12 oz Chorizo (preferably raw but smoked will do)
6 oz ground beef
1 yellow onion
2 dashes Worchestershire
1 loaf pumpernickel bread

Chop onions fairly small, add olive oil to skillet and cook onions over low heat until caramelized, 6-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.

If your chorizo came in links, use a knife to split the casing and remove the meat. Crumble chorizo and ground beef together, then add to the skillet you caramelized the onions in, add some black pepper, and turn heat to medium. Brown beef and chorizo, then drain the fat. Set skillet aside. 

In a large sauce pan or pot, add the butter and heat over low, once butter melts, sprinkle the flour over the butter while whisking, to produce a roux. Cook your roux, while whisking, for a few moments to let it thicken. Then gradually add the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. 

Slowly add a small amount of the sauce to the beaten egg, while constantly whisking. Be careful, you don't want to cook the egg, I pour mine in slowly one spoonful at a time, from fairly high above the egg bowl, while whisking. 
Once you've added about 1/4 Cup of the sauce to the egg, add the egg mixture to the pan of sauce, while mixing. This will prevent the egg from cooking when it's added to the hot sauce. 

Return the sauce to a very low heat and gradually add the grated gouda, while stirring in a zig zag pattern to prevent the cheese from balling. Once all the cheese is melted, mix in the 2 dashes Worchestershire sauce, then add the meat and onions to the pot and mix well to combine.

Cut the larger slices of pumpernickel in half, or cut them all to your desired size, then divide the meat/cheese mixture up between the slices. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and bread is toasty. Serve warm. 


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