Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pimiento Cheese: Spice Up Your Life!

An essential Southern dish, Pimiento cheese combines sharp cheddar cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise with a peppering of other regional ingredients, creating a delicious blend of spice and soul. From grilled cheese to fritters, this versatile cheese can be used in a range of dishes. Below are two of my favorite recipes: Relish’s Pimiento Cheese Fritters and Southern Living’s Baked Pimiento Cheese.

Southern Living’s Baked Pimiento Cheese 

• 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise 
• 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained 
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
• 1 teaspoon finely grated onion 
• 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper 
• 1 (8-ounce) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded 
• 1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded 
• Garnish: chopped parsley 

1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheeses. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart or 11- x 7-inch baking dish.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until dip is golden and bubbly. Garnish, if desired. (*NOTE—I ended up baking my cheese for about an hour. I used an 8-inch casserole dish)

Relish’s Pimiento Cheese Fritters 
• 1 1/4 pounds cheddar cheese, grated 
• 8 ounces pepper-jack cheese, grated 
• 4 ounces cream cheese 
• 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped 
• 1 1/2 tsp Cajun Spice 
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
• pinch of salt 
• 2 cups flour 
• 2 cups buttermilk 
• 4 cups panko breadcrumbs 
• 2 cups Relish's 4 Pepper Jelly 

1. In a large bowl, mix the cheddar and pepper-jack cheeses.
2. In a food processor , add the cream cheese, red peppers, Cajun spice and mayonnaise. Process until combined and there are no clumps of cream cheese.
3. Add the cream cheese mixture to the cheese and mix with a rubber spatula until combined.
4. Season with salt to taste.
5. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
6. Scoop tablespoon size pieces of pimiento cheese and roll them into smooth balls.
7. Put the flour, buttermilk and panko breadcrumbs in three separate bowls.
8. Bread the pimiento cheese, place a ball of pimiento cheese in the flour and roll it until completely coated. Dust off the excess. Next, add the ball of pimiento cheese into the buttermilk and completely coat the cheese. Add it into the panko breadcrumbs and press the breadcrumbs into the cheese. Then repeat the buttermilk and panko breadcrumb steps (the pimiento cheese needs to be completely coated or the cheese will leak out during frying.) Continue with the pimiento cheese balls until all of them are breaded.
9. Chill for 1 hour.
10. Add 1 gallon of oil to a large pot. Place the pot over medium heat until a frying thermometer reaches 350 degrees. Fry 6 to 8 fritters at a time for about 3 to 4 minutes and they are golden brown in color. Continue frying until all of the fritters are cooked.
11. Serve the pimiento cheese fritters with the pepper jelly.

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