Pimento Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Jelly
The ultimate Southern pairing makes the perfect party snack.
Image courtesy of Buttermilk Kitchen
The quintessential Southern snack tray: pimento cheese, roasted red pepper jelly, buttered toasts and homemade pickles for a little crunch on top.
In the warm weather season when red peppers are popping, I dig deep in my recipe book—a.k.a. a horribly disorganized folder—for new ways to work with them. Nothing against their green cousins, but red peppers are fruitier, more flavorful and contain more than 10 times the beta-carotene.
But there are only so many fajitas and stuffed peppers you can make. Only so many times you can cut those cuties up and dip them in ranch dip. (Okay, that last one's a lie—I could do that daily). Just when I thought I'd hit the wall, I found red peppers featured in the most fabulous way possible: in spicy red pepper jelly. On buttered toast points. With a big smear of pimento cheese on top.
I was at the 2014 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival—a place at which, you might imagine, no one goes hungry. I saw a small crowd around a table and went over to see what all the oohing and aahing was about. And there was Suzanne Vizethann, chef/owner of Atlanta's Buttermilk Kitchen, turning out platter after platter of the perfect party snack. Her pimento cheese bites with red pepper jelly are a little sweet, a little salty, a little cheesy and a little fruity to balance it all out.
"I love the flavors together," says Vizethann, who uses organic red bell peppers to make the jelly. "The sharpness of the cheddar and onion in the pimento cheese is a great complement to the sweetness of the red pepper jelly."
Vizethann makes 6 gallons of her red pepper jelly a week to feed the hungry crowds at Buttermilk Kitchen. If you, like me, can't be trusted with that much deliciousness in the house, feel free to reduce the recipe.
Spicy Red Pepper Jelly
Yields about 8 quarts
- 12 cups bell peppers, roasted, diced and drained
- 3 tablespoons dried hot red pepper flakes
- 6-7 tablespoons no-sugar-needed pectin
- 6 quarts sugar
- 3 cups cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon salt
Pulse peppers with red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped.
Stir together pepper mixture, vinegar, butter, salt and remaining sugar in a 6-quart heavy pot. Bring to a vigorous boil over high heat, then continue to boil vigorously, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Gradually add pectin, whisking constantly. Return jelly to a vigorous boil, stirring constantly, and boil while stirring for 1-2 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.
- 6 cups sharp cheddar
- 1 cup pimentos, drained
- 3 cups mayonnaise (Vizethann uses Duke's)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
Grate the onion on a box grater, mash all ingredients together in a large bowl and chill until it's time to serve.