Tuesday, September 29, 2009

where the skies are so blue

I have some long posts I haven't finished, and consequently I keep failing to make the shorter more manageable posts that I could be making, so sorry for not informing you of the chaurice and patatas bravas with paprika mayonnaise, which have now been et and were not submitted to the camera, but I will circle back round to patatas bravas when I make them with clams.

Meanwhile, pimento cheese.  This is pretty much my favorite thing.  I'm so devoted to pimento cheese that I grow pimiento peppers so that, for as long as they last, I can make extra-awesome-terrific pimento cheese, before having to go back to the jarred peppers.

Pimento cheese in progress

Those are the pimientos from my garden, roasted and peeled, in the Zip-Loc bag.  The summer was bad enough that I only got enough peppers for one batch of pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese

Roasted red bell peppers are not a substitute for pimientos.  Pimientos have a bad reputation because of their association with so much crappy processed food, but just because crappy processed pimento cheese exists doesn't mean pimento cheese must be crappy or processed, nor that it is authentically so.

There are a wide variety of peppers sold as pimientos, but as far as I'm aware, they're all members of the capsicum annuum family -- the same pepper family as bell peppers and Italian sweet peppers, Hungarian wax peppers, cayenne, jalapenos, and New Mexico chiles, as well as the various peppers ground to make paprika.  If I had fresh paprika peppers, that'd be the best substitute for pimientos, and in fact I'm not sure it's a substitute at all -- the pimientos I've grown remind me of the fresh paprikas I've bought, as well as of Italian sweet peppers and sweet cherry peppers.

Pimento cheese -- yes, you may notice I spell the word for the pepper differently depending on whether I am referring to the pepper itself or the cheese made from it -- is a spread made from pimiento peppers, Cheddar cheese, moderate levels of seasonings, and enough mayonnaise to make it spreadable.  Butter is a good addition, but if you use butter, it helps to bring the cheese up to room temperature before spreading it.

Ideally, you should make your own mayonnaise.  However, this is one of the only things I use mayonnaise for, and it only takes a few tablespoons, which is significantly less than the smallest reasonable amount of mayonnaise you can make (because it's made with eggs, and you would have to use less than one egg to make that little mayonnaise).  

You can make your pimento cheese "chunky," by shredding the cheese and mashing everything up with a fork, or smooth, by using a Cuisinart.  I use the Cuisinart but don't scrape the sides of the bowl, so that it's not completely smooth.  After shredding the cheese, I add it, the peppers, a couple pickled ramps (substitute pickled garlic, a little diced onion, or nothing), and sometimes a little bit of butter, and then while the Cuisinart is running, I'll add:

* A bit of hot sauce (Louisiana hot sauce, Texas Pete, Tabasco, or sriracha).  You can just give it a little zing, or you can make it real damn spicy.

* A bit of prepared or dry mustard (Zatarain's Creole Mustard is the best choice if you're using prepared mustard)

* Sometimes a bit of Old Bay or black pepper

* And then add mayonnaise, a little bit at a time, until the texture is right.  It will be softer in the Cuisinart than in the refrigerator, so make it slightly softer than you want if you want it to be spreadable while cold.

But what you want to end up with, see, is a fusion of Cheddar cheese and peppers with a little seasoning that highlights both.

What's it good on?  Sandwiches, ideally.  Hamburgers.  Hot dogs.  Biscuits.  Celery sticks.  Scrambled eggs.  Tomatoes.  Bacon.  Grits.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm... now I want some!! And I'm in NY! ARRGH!!