Jalapeño Poppers à la Carolina

 

The first time I tried Palmetto Cheese, it was a revelation. I became a pimento cheese snob. I have always loved pimento cheese. It was the stuff between slices of Wonderbread that made my heart sing.  But Palmetto Cheese is next-level stuff.  Theirs is the first pimento cheese I’ve ever had that included bits of jalapeño, and the combination is inspired.

It can be tough to find this South Carolina delicacy here in the big apple, but we do get lucky on occasion.  Love that Palmetto Cheese actually has a page on their site dedicated to finding the product in stores!  When we can’t find the real thing, we tend to make our own, and the most recent round was a roasted garlic bonanza of happiness (more on that later).

Like the trajectory of my love affair with pimento cheese, my appreciation for the jalapeño popper has grown over time.  My earliest memory of jalapeño poppers were Sonic’s Ched ‘R Peppers.  Sonic has some fine moments (the Cherry Limeade), but these little bites of cheezy peppers don’t quite make the cut.  They hint at the possibility of something wonderful, but they don’t quite get there.  That said, when you love peppers and cheese as much as I do and someone puts them together for you for the first time, it matters.

I’ve had an awful lot of cheese-filled peppers since that time, some better than others, but it wasn’t until I had one filled with pimento cheese and wrapped in smoky bacon that I understood the magic.  This is no tiny pepper stuffed with pasteurized, processed cheese food.  This is the grilled jalapeño popper of my dreams.

Which takes us back to pimento cheese.  There was no Palmetto Cheese to be had this time around, so I tried a little something new.  It was all about garlic roasted in a screaming hot cast iron pan and scallions grown in our windowsill.

 

The foundation of our go-to pimento cheese is from the Fearrington House Cookbook, but we make a few adjustments to suit our tastes.  The original calls for evaporated milk and an egg, but that doesn’t make it into our recipe.

  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. pimentos, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 8 cloves of roasted garlic
  • fresh scallions

The soft, sweet garlic made the pimento cheese a bit creamier than usual, but that was just perfect for pepper stuffing.  The result was A+.

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