The Milkweed Diaries

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pimento Cheese!

Roasted homegrown pimentos
After a long, long period of neglect of my beloved Milkweed Diaries, I'm breaking radio silence with a short little ode to pimento cheese.  Oh pimento cheese, I love you!

A classic staple of the American South, this delicious and creamy treat is traditionally made with Duke's mayonnaise and canned pimentos. My slightly pretentious, healthy, homegrown version is made with raw goat cheese and fresh roasted peppers.  As I spooned this experimental concoction straight into my mouth fresh from the food processor, I announced to Christopher: "I believe this is the best thing I have ever made."  Even in the clear light of day a week later, I'm pretty sure it's true.  

Here's how to make it:
  • Roast the pimentos. I did this at 450 degrees using the broiler setting of my toaster oven.  I drizzled  them with a scant bit of olive oil and broiled them until they had begun to pucker and develop black spots on one side and then flipped them and broiled on the other side.
    Roasting the pimentos
    • Let the pimentos rest in a paper bag.  This will make them easier to peel.
    • Peel the pimentos. This is the tedious and slightly time-consuming part. Remember, it's worth it.  At this point you can store the pimentos in a jar for a day or so if you need to sit the project down til you have time to complete it.
    Mixing in the food processor
    • Mix the pimentos with fresh raw goat cheese. I used a basic soft goat cheese I had made the night before from our goats' milk using Ricki  Carroll's recipe - a raw, cultured goat cheese made with mesophillic culture.  Any good mild, cultured goat cheese will do - the slight cultured tang adds a really nice zest.  I did the mixing by dumping the pimentos in the bottom of my food processor and gradually adding cheese until the consistency, color, and mix looked right. 
    • Enjoy immediately!  This cheese stores well in the fridge and also freezes well, but I find it tastes best at room temperature.
      The final product: Pimento Cheese!

    One important tip: use good pimentos - as fresh as possible.  I was inspired to make this by the abundance of pimentos rolling in from our garden this year.  I used about 25 homegrown peppers - the beautiful, plump, and prolific Ashe County Pimento from the High Country of Western NC via Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
    Ashe County Pimentos
    I also threw in some Doe Hill Golden Bells which are supposedly a bell pepper, but to me look like a small, golden pimento. This seed was also from Southern Exposure, and has been a great addition to our pepper production bed this year. The plants have produced abundantly, and the flavor is wonderful.  According to Southern Exposure, this little gem is a pre-1900 family heirloom from the Doe Hill area in Highland County, Virginia.

    Doe Hill Golden Bells

    This cheese is so delightful spread on toast, noshed upon with crackers, as a garnish on tomato salads, and eaten straight up with a spoon. I froze a ton of it and am envisioning pimento deviled eggs, pimento grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, and all manner of pimento goodness through the months to come. Yum!


    Sara said...

    Thanks for this! Missed you!

    We also grow the Doe Hills, and I agree with you. More folks should grow them! We stuffed some the other night with a creamy rice concoction and then roasted 'em. Yum.

    Milkweed said...

    Thanks Sara! Doe Hills stuffed with goat cheese and baked = heavenly! It's good to be back....thanks for reading!