Foodstuffs I took for granted growing up in North Carolina include but are not limited to: sweet tea, hush puppies, collard greens, chopped barbecue, and pimento cheese sandwiches. I've only recently learned via the Lee brothers and John T. Edge that our neighbors in South Carolina take pimento cheese to a whole other level with the Pimento Cheese Burger. This recipe from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook creates a stiffer spread suitable for grilling thanks to the omission of mayonnaise.
Pimento Cheese for Grilling
- 1 red bell pepper
- 8 ounces (about 3 cups) finely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) softened cream cheese, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For Each Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich
- Three 1/3-inch-thick slices Pimento Cheese for Grilling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Two 1/3-inch-thick slices Sally Lunn or other white bread
- For Each Pimento Cheeseburger
- 6 ounces ground beef (chuck, round, or sirloin, whichever you prefer)
- Two 1/3-inch-thick slices Pimento Cheese for Grilling
- 1 hamburger bun, lightly toasted
1. Turn on the broiler. place the pepper on its side in a dry skillet and slide it under the broiler until the skin blackens on the side facing up, about 3 minutes. With tongs, turn the pepper so that an unblackened side faces up, and repeat until the skin is blackened on all sides. Place the pepper in a small bowl, cover it, and let it steam for 5 minutes as it cools down.
2. Uncover the bowl. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board, reserving any liquid in the bowl. Remove the blackened skin with your fingers and discard. Using a paring knife, cut open the pepper, remove and discard the stem and seeds, and chop the pepper into 1/4-inch dice. You should have a scant 1/2 cup.
3. Place the grated cheddar in a medium bowl and add the cream cheese pieces, the diced red pepper and its liquid, and the red pepper flakes, distributing them evenly over the cheese. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, blend the ingredients together until the spread is thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
4. Turn the blended cheese out onto a cutting board and use a spatula to gather it into a rectangular block about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, and 2 inches high. Wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until ready to use. Slice and serve. Grillable pimento cheese keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
For Each Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Lightly toast the bread in a toaster or under the broiler. Place the cheese between the slices of toast.
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium hear. As soon as the butter is frothy, place the sandwich in the skillet. Pan-fry the sandwich for 6 minutes. Flip it with a spatula, cover the skillet, and cook for 3 minutes more.
Transfer to a cutting board, slice the sandwich diagonally with a serrated knife into two portable pieces.
For Each Pimento Cheeseburger
Grill Beef patties as preferred with pimento cheese slices added toward the end to melt (cover patties with shallow bowl to facilitate melting if needed.
3. Set the bottom half of the hamburger bun on a plate and transfer the burger to the bun. Let rest for 2 minutes before dressing with condiments or garnishes. We prefer a slice of tomato and a thin ring of red onion.