With our recent heat, the peppers have started coming in. While the majority of the sweet peppers get eaten fresh, with excess going to the freezer (either just cut into strips, or roasted first), the rest need to be processed in some way (with the occasional hot pepper getting sliced into salads, etc).
I grew and made all my own paprika last year; the quality was so superior to anything I could buy in the store that I decided to do it every year. So today I am dehydrating paprika peppers for the plain variety. When I have a few more come in, I’ll smoke them, then dehydrate. I also dehydrate cayenne for my own ground spice, and make chili powder using all of the above as well as some other ingredients. I also make our own sriracha every year.
Tom is making pickled hot peppers today as well; these are then canned using the water-bath method and available through the next year for use in all kinds of things. Tom and Adam are particularly fond of any kind of pickle. I prefer the fermented kind and used a new recipe this year which I like a lot, substituting our own apple cider vinegar for the distilled kind. You can find that recipe HERE.
I also experimented making my own pimento cheese today. Last year I was reminded of this southern delicacy and decided to grow pimentos precisely for the purpose of making it. I spent a good deal of time researching different recipes; it seems that every town in the south has its own regional spin. I finally went with a recipe from Sean Brock, author of the southern cookbook Heritage. I liked it because it included pickles and brine, of which we always have quite a lot (see note above). I tweaked it a little, using homemade sriracha rather than generic hot sauce, pickled sour cucumbers rather than ramps or bread ‘n butter, eliminating both ground peppers and the sugar. I also processed it in the food processor after mixing it by hand and not liking the lumpy texture. And, well, I’d say it’s okay. I’ll eat it in sandwiches this week (I have to brown bag it M-Th) or as a dip for veg, but I want to make it differently next time. I want it thicker, not so runny (too much brine). It is also a little too salty (depends on your pickles, I guess). I definitely want the ratio of peppers to cheese to be higher - it should be mostly pepper, in my opinion.
This recipe included both sharp cheddar and cream cheese. I’m wondering if I used cultured cream cheese and no cheddar cheese, if I’d like it better. Maybe I’d just prefer a sort of roasted pepper cream cheese thing. But then, is that even pimento cheese?
So I’d like to ask you guys, how do you make it? I know we have some southerners on here (Linda, I’m looking at you!). I grew up in MD, ostensibly the south, and yet I never had this as a youth.
Here’s an interesting article about why pimento cheese is considered a southern dish, even though it turns out that it was born in New York City. I like the suggestion at the end to bake it with sausage (and maybe bread crumbs) as a sort of casserole. What do you think?