25 Days of Dishes: Pimento Cheese

Maybe your looking for new inspiration.  Every day in December we will feature a different idea for you. These will be a mix of baked goods, sides, main dishes and cocktails.  Who doesn't need a good festive beverage to get you through the season.  Think of this as your advent calendar of holiday ideas.

The season in general is full of iconic dishes and deserts that we only enjoy during this magical time of the year.  There are many dishes that bring back memories from childhood.  This collection of dishes are a collection of personal recipes along with ideas taken from others worthy of a share.  Enjoy, have a happy holiday season and Merry Christmas.

When it comes to holiday gatherings you can't forget about the appetizers or finger food.  The grazing table is a popular area at most of my gatherings.

Living in Wisconsin means you have to have cheese.  A good cheese spread is almost a must. If you've never had pimento cheese you need to.  Yes it can look unappealing but it is the best cheese spread you will ever have.  Put it on crackers, pretzels, bread, veggies, burgers!  The options are endless!

Everyone has his or her own way of making pimento cheese and the biggest difference comes down to the mayo really.  My biggest tip also is to make it with peppers you roast yourself, but if you can’t get the fresh peppers, substitute 12 ounces jarred whole pimentos, drained and diced (don’t use jarred chopped pimentos—they have no flavor).

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 large pimento peppers (red bell pepper works)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (not miracle-whip, that's not mayonnaise)
  • 1/2 tsp. vinegar-based hot sauce (something like Tabasco or Louisiana)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup bread and butter pickles, chopped, plus 
  • 1/2 cup of the brine. 
  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater


Instructions

  1. Roast the peppers over an open flame on a gas stovetop, one pepper at a time, on the prongs of a carving fork. Or place on a baking sheet and roast under a hot broiler. In either case, turn the peppers to blister all sides. Then transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to let the peppers steam until cool enough to handle.
  2. Carefully peel the blackened skin off each pepper. Cut the peppers lengthwise in half, open out flat on a cutting board, and carefully scrape away all the seeds and membrane. Dice the peppers. 
  3. Put the cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until softened. Add the mayonnaise and mix well. Add the hot sauce, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and smoked paprika and stir to blend. Add the ramps, ramp brine, and cheddar cheese and stir again. Fold in the diced pimentos. 
  4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Tightly covered, the pimento cheese will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. 

Note: For creamer pimento cheese, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

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