30 August 2012

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed French Bread

Pimiento cheese is a true Southern classic.  Most families have their own way of making it, their own favorite brand at the store (if they are even willing to consider store-bought varieties), and their favorite vessel for getting it to their mouths.  Some like it on a sandwich, some with crackers, some in celery boats, and lately chefs have even been using it as a fancy burger topping.

For me pimiento cheese has been an acquired taste.  I ate it pretty infrequently as a kid and then it was pretty much entirely store bought and served in celery as part of the holiday veggie tray.  I was not impressed.  Since I started this blog, I have been going back and thinking about all the iconic Southern foods.  Pimiento cheese immediately came to mind.  It is one of my step-dad Rocky's favorite foods.  It is one of those foods that brings back all sorts of fond memories of his childhood.  So, when I think of pimiento cheese, I think of Rocky.  He's the reason I decided to make pimiento cheese one of my Southern classics.

homemade pimiento cheese -- yummy!
Pimiento cheese uses three ingredients as its base -- shredded cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimientos.  Pimientos are roasted sweet peppers if you aren't familiar with them outside of their being stuffed in green olives.  Because the building blocks are so simple, you really need to focus on the flavor of your ingredients to lift it up from boring to spectacularly delicious.  Use a good quality extra sharp cheddar cheese and real mayonnaise.  Be sure to use mayonnaise not salad dressing, a.k.a. Miracle Whip, to make pimiento cheese.  The extra kick of the Miracle Whip along with the sharpness of the cheese is just too biting.  It makes pimiento cheese truly unpleasant.

I fancied up my pimiento cheese by stuffing it into some french bread, adding some sliced pickles and bacon, then toasting the whole thing up until it was nice and melty.  The bacon and crunchy bread add a nice contrast to the oozy cheese.  The acid in the pickles is nice to counterbalance all that fat.  It's a party in you mouth.  There are plenty of flavors and textures to keep you coming back for more.

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed French Bread
makes 1 loaf

Print me, Please!!!

2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small jar (2-3 oz) chopped pimientos
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Tobasco chipotle hot sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf French bread
8-10 slices bacon, cooked until not quite crispy
sliced dill pickles

To make the pimiento cheese, combine the cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir well to combine.  Put the mixture in a airtight container and store in the refrigerator.  The pimiento cheese gets better with age, so try to make it at least a day before you plan to use it for the flavors to develop.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  

Cut the French bread in slices, not quite cutting all the way through the bread, to make pockets for all your goodies.  Spread about a tablespoon of pimiento cheese into each section.  Add a slice of bacon and a pickle slice or two to each section as well.  Move the bread to a large baking sheet.

Bake the stuffed French bread for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted, the bacon is crispy, and the bread is deeply golden.  Serve warm.

1 comment:

  1. This stuff is great plus it brought back some memories from childhood! It's almost gone



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