Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Bernzomatic
As a Northerner, I had never heard of Pimento Cheese until a few years ago. I was competing in Big Green Egg’s Eggtoberfest in Georgia and when our team was planning out what we would cook for a mere 5,000 people, one of my teammates suggested putting brisket over pimento cheese grits. Well, to be honest, my first thought was what on earth was that, and my second thought was that it involved brisket and cheese and that couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. Sure enough it was ridiculously delicious. I was hooked and I of course had to make my own version.
Pimento cheese, for those of you who led sheltered lives like myself growing up, is a combination of shredded cheese, mayo, chopped pimentos, and then various other additions specific to different recipes. What can you use it for? Well, to be honest, there are a ton of possibilities. It can be used as a dip for vegetables like celery, you can top a burger with it, put some on a biscuit, put in on a basic saltine cracker or whichever crackers you prefer. At risk of sounding like Forrest Gump, you can top fried green tomatoes with it, put it in mushrooms then bake it for stuffed mushrooms, use it in a quesadilla, or just put some on a tomato sandwich to give it something extra special.
In this recipe, I will make a Torched Hatch Chile and Pimento Grilled Cheese. But keep in mind, you can use the same pimento cheese for any of the ideas above and then some. So, it is time to get to the fun part, using my Bernzomatic TS8000 Max Heat Torch! Cooking should be fun and what better way than to pull out my blow torch. I have been using Bernzomatic blow torches ever since I bought my first Big Green Egg grill. I use it to light my charcoal but also for cooking and other applications around the house. Some people think blow torches are intimidating but I promise you, there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, when my friends join me grilling, I always let them use it to show them how easy and fun it truly is! I love the look on my friend’s face when they push the button and see that beautiful flame come out.
I was honored when Bernzomatic I reached out to me to be one of their “Torch Bearers” because I know the product well and have been using it for so long. It is hard to believe Bernzomatic has been the leader in the blowtorch category since 1876. I didn’t even realize blow torches were around for that long! There are plenty of tips on www.bernzomatic.com regarding torch safety, choosing the right fuel for the right job, and even plenty of recipes. To blister my Hatch chiles, I used my Bernzomatic TS8000 Torch with a propane fuel cylinder attached.
So, let’s get to the recipe! You really only need two Hatch chiles for this recipe, and because they are a seasonal item, you can definitely use an alternate pepper such as a poblano. In terms of flavor they are quite different but still just as delicious. I love to use sourdough bread, but use whatever you like. As for what to slather on your bread before making it all toasty in the pan? Whether you are team mayo or team butter, it doesn’t matter. This is your grilled cheese! Either choice will work just fine and give you that delicious crunchy exterior on your bread that pairs so wonderfully with the melted cheese inside.
To blister the Hatch chiles, lightly coat them in oil and place on a sheet pan or a surface that is resistant to high heat. I actually put mine on the flat surface of one of my grills. Why fire up an entire grill when you can use your torch to get the job done in 2 minutes? Turn the torch on and keep moving the flame over the surface of the peppers until they are charred on all sides.
After the chiles are charred on all sides, put in a paper or a plastic bag and close it in order to allow the chiles to steam. After about 10 minutes you should be able to pull the charred skins right off of the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds, then chop into small dice for the recipe. If you don’t feel like using all of the pimento cheese immediately, you may cover and keep it in the refrigerator for a week. Now, let’s make that grilled cheese!
Torched Hatch Chile and Pimento Grilled Cheese
8oz sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
4oz cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup mayo
2 Hatch chiles, blistered, peeled and chopped
4oz pimentos (jarred and chopped)
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp minced onion
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
Make pimento grilled cheese. Combine mayo, torched Hatch chiles, pimentos, hot sauce, pepper, onion, cayenne pepper in medium bowl. Add cheddar cheese and cream cheese and stir until well combined. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (covered).
2. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Assemble grilled cheese by lightly spreading mayo or butter on one side of each slice of bread. Add 1/4 cup of pimento cheese in between two slices of bread and put in skillet with butter or mayo side down.
3. Continue to cook each grilled cheese until the outside of the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Continue with remaining slices of bread.
4. Cut each grilled cheese in half, grab some napkins and enjoy!
To learn more about Bernzomatic torches, visit www.bernzomatic.com