Time once again to explore Southern food that once seemed so strange to this Northern gal. I’ve talked about corn bread and sweet potato pie in particular, but I think I’m most upset that I just now discovered Pimento Cheese. I’ve missed out on so many years! I don’t know if I ever tried it before (if I had it was obviously forgettable), but it always sounded like one of those “weird” foods that I’d be just fine without ever trying. And once again, I was proved incredibly wrong. I can’t get enough of it now that I’ve had it. I’ve been doing a lot of taste testing to tweak this recipe- all for your benefit of course. You’re welcome! It’s been tough but I survived. Yum.
According to our buddy Wikipedia, traditional pimento is pretty basic: sharp cheddar, mayo, pimentos, salt, and pepper. Pretty easy! But so many regional twists have been added that include hot sauce, cream cheese, jalapeños, and pickles. The possibilities are endless. And did you know that pimentos are just a version of red peppers? Slightly different and a little more expensive.
I used my new favorite cookbook Frank Stitt’s Southern Table to find a recipe base. Just a quick note on this cookbook: it’s a beautiful addition to any cookbook collection. Everything I’ve made has been fantastic and it has beautiful pictures with wonderful stories to accompany it. So if you are looking for a good Southern food cookbook (and if you aren’t, then why not?) this is it. (Note: I am not paid to say that! The cookbook was a gift from Dear Hubby.) But my recipe ended up quite different. First, I wanted to add pepper jack cheese in addition to sharp cheddar. Second, the mayo incident. He recommends making your own mayo (and has a recipe for it) but this was just not my day to make mayo. I’ve made it many times before without any issues but it just kept breaking on me, even after adding a second yolk! I didn’t want to spend all day making mayo so I just doubled the cream cheese. I also substituted jarred pimentos for roasting fresh red peppers to save time. And finally, I added some capers for a little color and tang.
And the pretzel sticks are just a variation of these pretzels. Just take a small piece of dough and roll them out super thin. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or just salt and bake at 425F until brown and crispy. Easy! This is one of my favorite dough recipes. It comes together in no time at all and always tastes good. Dear hubby actually did this batch. I made the dough and he took it from there!
How’s that for football food? Enjoy!
Adapted from Chef Frank Stitt
One year ago: Sourdough Pretzels
Yield: About 3 cups
Time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 lb pepper jack cheese
- 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
- 7 oz jar pimentos, drained (you can use roasted red peppers if you can’t find pimentos)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1/2 juice lemon
- 1 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- Splash of hot sauce (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 TB capers, rinsed and drained
1. Finely shred the pepper jack or sharp cheddar. Coarsely shred it if you’d prefer more texture.
2. Add the remaining ingredients: drained pimentos, cream cheese, lemon, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne, and sugar. Mix until well combined. This may take a bit of muscle.
3. Eat! Leftovers will keep for several days in the refrigerator. But, you will want to let it come to room temperature or microwave very briefly, about 5 seconds, or it will be rather challenging to dip.