Are you there, Kitchen Mischief? It’s me, Josh. Sorry I’ve been away. My new job at Taste of the South magazine has kept me pretty busy! Between dashing downstairs to the Test Kitchen, editing recipes, and trying to not eat myself into a support group, I haven’t had a ton of time for mischief making. But our July-August issue’s Fried Green Tomato and Pimiento Cheese BLT (take a peek here) inspired me to get my mischief on. And so Cornbread Bites with Pimiento Cheese and Bacon were born.
I’m not one to toot my own horn, but these little darlings are ridiculously delicious! Nothing earth-shattering here, folks…just three classic Southern flavors, all packed into one addictive bite. They’re actually pretty easy…and you can even cheat with store-bought pimiento cheese and cornbread. But why do that when homemade is so easy? Read on and decide for yourself.
Cornbread Bites with Pimiento Cheese and Bacon
8 to 10 appetizer servings
Here’s the gameplan. Tackle the cornbread first. After it’s cooked and toasted, you can make the Pimiento Cheese while it cools. Microwave the bacon while the cornbread cooks.
Martha White “Hot Rize” Yellow Cornmeal Mix
2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob (optional)
In a large bowl, mix cornbread according to directions on the back of the bag (I cut the sugar down to 1 tablespoon). Stir in corn. I split the mixture between one mini-muffin tin and 1 8×8-inch pan. Bake at 425 degrees until golden, 10 to 15 minutes…watch those tiny muffins; they cook fast!
After the cornbread has cooled, use a knife to hollow out the tops of the mini muffins (you’ll be removing about a teaspoon of cornbread). Cut the 8×8 cornbread into cubes; split cubes in half horizontally.
Place cooked cornbread on a baking sheet, and spray with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.
Pimiento Cheese is a personal decision. Some folks like it spicy, some like it mayonnaisy, others pack it full of some crazy stuff. Here’s where I started; take it where you like and make it your own.
Homemade Pimiento Cheese
6 to 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (orange)
6 to 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese (white)
4 to 6 ounces diced pimientos, drained
¼ cup finely minced onion
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
For starters, grate your own cheese, please. It really makes a huge difference. I used the grating blade on my food processor. Combine cheese and remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to combine.
Tip: To give your pimiento cheese a creamy texture without adding a ton of mayo that drowns out the cheese flavor, put half of the pimiento cheese in the food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulsing a few times. Stir it back into the reserved pimiento cheese.
Assembly: Cook 4 slices of bacon; let cool, and crumble. Spoon or spread about 2 teaspoons Pimento Cheese atop each Cornbread Bite. Crown each little darling with a bacon-crumb crown, and proceed to stuff yo face.
Grab a loaf of store-bought cornbread; cube and toast as described earlier. Spread with store-bought pimiento cheese, and top with crumbled bacon. D-O-N-E. It won’t be as good as homemade, but it’ll do in a pinch!
Please have a wonderfully Happy Fourth, and grill carefully!
And now, as Jon Stewart would say if he were a culinary blogger and could enjoy bacon, here is your moment of Zen: