As I sat listening to the wind roar up outside the other night ahead of more rain we received yesterday morning, I couldn’t help but dream a little of summer.
We got a tiny glimpse of it here the past couple of days – or at least spring, if not summer – and while I was talking about grilling burgers on Monday, today I’m thinking about all the warm and melty grilled cheese sandwiches needed to get me through the next few daunting and unpredictable weeks of spring until the trees bloom and foggy May mornings abound. (Also, thank you, creators of national grilled cheese month, for making this an exceptionally difficult month to get through while trying to eat healthy. But I digress.)
These grilled pimento cheese sandwiches with bacon will do for now.
Because have you eaten pimento cheese before? As a northern girl, I can say that pimento cheese is not a thing here. And if it is a thing, its found a niche somewhere.
It’s not the across-the-board staple appetizer cheese spread here like it is in the South. Which is sort of ok because when you make your own food, you’re not relegated to what the grocery stores and local restaurants offer.
You can make grilled pimento cheese sandwiches with bacon at home on a Sunday afternoon. And you can freaking love them with all of your heart as you delicately lick the melted cheese off of the back of your perfectly toasted sourdough bread while nobody is looking.
Because that may have happened here recently.
If pimento cheese is unfamiliar to you, try to put aside your pre-conceived notion that pimento is only associated with what’s stuffed in the olive sticking out of your uncle’s 1980s martini.
Pimentos are simply roasted red peppers and you’ll mix a whole bunch of them into a huge pile of shredded cheese to make the cheese base for these sandwiches. Unbelievably, all of the flavors mesh beautifully together and whether you serve it alone with crackers, stuffed into deviled eggs (as my first experience with pimento cheese proved to be so right), or mixed up into some fried mac and cheese bites, you can’t go wrong with it.
These grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty much to die for – any southern or northern girl’s dream lunch.
For the pimento cheese:
- 8 oz extra sharp yellow cheddar, shredded
- 4 oz diced pimientos, drained
- 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise (light is fine)
- ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ tsp chili powder
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the sandwiches:
- 12 slices thick-cut sandwich or sourdough bread
- Salted butter, softened until almost melted
- 12 slices cooked bacon
- To make the pimento cheese: Stir all of the ingredients together in large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.
- To make the sandwiches: Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread a couple tablespoons of the pimento cheese on the unbuttered side of half of the slices. Working in batches, place the buttered side of those slices down in the skillet. Top each of the sandwich halves with two slices of bacon and top with the remaining bread, butter-side up.
- Cover the pan with a lid or sheet of aluminum foil for about 3 minutes; this will ensure heat melts the cheese. Remove the lid (or foil) and check the undersides of the bread with a spatula. If the bread is lightly browned, flip the sandwiches to finish off the other sides. When both sides of the sandwiches are perfectly browned (you know what that looks like) and the cheese is just about melted, remove them from the pan, cut, and serve hot and gooey. Keep finished sandwiches in a warm oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet while you grill the remaining sandwiches.
Smells Like Home original | pimento cheese adapted from Pink Parsley
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