People who hail from the South know a thing or two about some foods that the rest of us may have missed out on.
It’s our loss, and no matter how late in the game we are introduced to these foods, we should do our very best to make up for lost time. Once you discover these foods, you won’t need much urging.
Grits are a big one, whether for breakfast lunch or dinner.
Boiled peanuts—an acquired taste for some, but if you love them you love them. I love them.
Pimento cheese. This is just a phenomenal thing. This has been called the “House Pate” of the South (isn’t that terrific?). It’s usually a combo of roasted peppers (piquillo, pimento, or red bell) with mayo, cheddar cheese…and sometimes it stops right there. Often other ingredients work their way in, such as different cheeses, spices such as hot peppers or paprika, Worcestershire, lemon juice, some member of the onion family.
Don’t use pre-grated cheese for this Pimento Cheese Spread—freshly grated cheese makes the mixture taste amazing—and adhere together better.
You can use Pimento Cheese Spread on anything—crackers, stuffed into celery sticks (classic), in a sandwich, on a biscuit,
And you can definitely use it on a burger….Make sure to put this on a hot burger, or even better pile it on the burger for a moment at the end of the grilling process, cover the grill, and let the pimento cheese spread melt a bit. Yum.
My friend, talented Southern chef Griff Day, of Back in the Day Bakery, told me he uses a splash of bourbon in his pimento cheese, and that little trick really seems to add some depth and extra flavor to my version as well. I tried his with some crispy bacon and other melty cheese (fontina? havarti? mild cheddar? something like that…) in a griddled sandwich at the bakery and it was one of the best sandwiches have ever eaten.
Make the pimento cheese at least one day ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. Serve leftovers with crackers.
Below it is nestled up with some blue cheese spread and a roasted pepper dressings, a bevy of possible burger toppings for a party.
Pimento Cheese Spread
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Large pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 7-ounce jar pimentos drained and minced
- Kosher salt to taste
- In a mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, cream cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Stir in the cheese and pimentos, and season with salt to taste, and add more hot sauce if desired. Pack into a container and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to 7.
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