By the Way

Say cheese: Cheese straws reign in the Magnolia State

By KATE MAGANDY

kmagandy@sunherald.com

Cheese straws are a southern staple and considered Mississippi's best cheese-based recipe, according to CheeseRank website.
Cheese straws are a southern staple and considered Mississippi's best cheese-based recipe, according to CheeseRank website. Kansas City Star/File

Facebook surfing early in the morning usually turns up cute animal videos, posts I missed from friends, the latest political campaign hate-rants and the like.

But Tuesday, I hit a guaranteed click-bait item I could not resist. A list of the "Best Cheese Recipes From the 50 Best United States" from the website CheeseRank. ("Your go-to guide for all things cheese.") Yes, there's a website for everything these days.

So of course, I had to find out what the best cheese recipe is for our state. You know, personal pride, professional curiosity. Take your pick.

The recipe? Cheese straws. That's a no-brainer. Southerners love their cheese straws and Mississippi has several good ones that sell commercially, as well as recipes to make them (as long as you make enough to share; they are addictive.)

One of the more popular is the Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory in Yazoo City. Their products are sold on the Mississippi Gift Company website. A solid choice if you're out of town. Or you can buy them locally at The Pecan House or other specialty gift stores.

My friend and co-worker, Anita Lee, is kind enough to make her spicy cheese straws each Christmas and share them with my husband and I (mostly Tom. He loves her cheese straws.) We reciprocate with Magandy Candy. But that's another story.

Southern Living has a great how-to video on making cheese straws.

You can find recipes for cheese straws in just about any Southern cookbook worth its apron strings. But to get you started, we've found this one from Bill Harris, who honed his cheese-straw making skills growing up in Aberdeen, Miss. His recipe does call for using a cookie press. If you don't have one, you can look for other recipes online that do not require one.

Or you can order them online. Or buy them. I gotta go. I have to get to the grocery store to buy some cheese.

Bill Harris' Cheese Straws

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 10-15 servings

Ingredients

10 oz of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 stick of unsalted butter

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Blend grated cheese and butter together thoroughly with a fork.

3. Blend flour, salt, and cayenne pepper.

4. Still using a fork, blend flour into the cheese mixture in small amounts until all the flour is incorporated into the dough.

5. Separate the dough into two balls.

6. Roll one of the balls into a cylinder shape and feed into cookie press.

7. Press the dough into rows on a baking sheet.

8. Repeat with second ball of dough.

9. When all the dough is pressed, use a knife to straighten the rows of dough.

10. Cut each row of dough into 5 cheese straws.

11. Bake for 15 minutes.

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