Coast Cooking

Different takes on the Southern favorite, pimento and cheese

Pimento and cheese has got to be about as Southern as it comes.  

We have been making sandwiches out of the mixture for generations, but innovative Southern cooks are turning this simple idea on its head.

Some of the best burgers are now topped with this oh so Southern spread, and it makes for a killer au gratin base, too.

Recently I visited Friar's in Hernando and really liked what they were doing. Their idea was to make a fritter out of Pimento and Cheese.

A dollop of spread is tossed around in bread crumbs and then fried crispy. Can you imagine biting into this crispy orb, filled with gooey hot cheese?

But here's a better idea: use shredded gruyere cheese, homemade garlic mayonnaise and a medley of roasted peppers:

PEPPER PIMENTO AND GRUYERE CHEESE

2 cup shredded gruyere (or sharp cheddar)

1/4 cup homemade garlic mayo

1 bell pepper

1 poblano

1 jalapeno

Grill the peppers over an open flame, when charred seal them in a paper sack for a few minutes until they cool  (the residual heat will steam them until they are soft and delicious). When the peppers are cool, peel the charred skins off under running water, dry and chop. Combine as many of the peppers as you like with the cheese and mayonnaise, mix well and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

If you want to make fritters out of the mixture, here’s how:

You'll need 2 cups panko bread crumbs

Add panko to a large mixing bowl. Using a spoon so the size will be uniform, drop one spoonful of the spread in the bowl of panko and toss to coat. Repeat the process until the spread is used up. Using your hands, pat the balls to ensure firmness. Drop the balls into a sauté pan with 1/4 inch of hot oil and cook until golden brown. Toss carefully to insure even browning. Alternative: use a deep fryer. Serve hot.

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