Courters' Kitchen: Homemade pimento cheese, biscuits add Southern spin to BLT

Courters' Kitchen: Homemade pimento cheese, biscuits add Southern spin to BLT

August 7th, 2013 By Barry Courter and Kelley Courter in Life Entertainment

A twisted BLT? Fried green tomatoes, homemade pimento cheese, homemade biscuits and bacon jam? From the Courter's kitchen.

Photo by Maura Friedman/Times Free Press.

COURTERS' KITCHEN

This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.

BARRY SAYS: There are some meals that are so Southern, you feel like you should eat them out on the porch dressed in seersucker and straw hats. This was one of those.

Sometimes when Kelley shares what she has in mind for our monthly food feature, I simply smile and nod because I’m not always certain what she is talking about. I know it will be good, but she sometimes uses words that are foreign to me because, well, they are foreign. Words like tapenade and remoulade.

This month’s menu was not one of those.

First, anything that starts with bacon is already a hit. When she said “bacon jam,” I was sold. Then she said fried green tomatoes, and it got even better. Then she said homemade pimento cheese, and I began slobbering like a bulldog. At some point she mentioned her mother’s drop biscuits, but I was having a Homer Simpson moment. “Mmmmm, bacon.”

KELLEY SAYS: It’s tomato season, so I wanted to do something with them, and I thought of BLTs, but I wanted to do something different. I always order my BLT with extra cheese, so this is my twisted version of the Southern classic. It’s not stacked or packaged together in sandwich form, but it all works together very well.

BARRY: It went together like pigs and mud.

KELLEY: I wanted to make my mother’s drop biscuits instead of using sliced bread, but I couldn’t come up with the recipe, and, truthfully, I’ve never been able to make them as well as she made them. Bless her heart, but I never did learn to bake like she could. Instead I took White Lily flour and followed the directions on the package and added some herbs from the garden to make an herb biscuit. Not Mom’s, but pretty good.

BARRY: The bacon jam and the pimento cheese were the stars here. The biscuits were simply there to transport them into our mouths. You could have served them on magnolia leaves and they would have been delicious.

KELLEY: The bacon jam is a condiment that could be used for any meal. A little goes a long way. You could put it on pancakes, burgers, toast or spoon it into collared greens. Use your imagination.

BARRY: It was really good, but the pimento cheese was the surprise to me only because I’m used to the stuff we get at cafeterias. It’s OK, but when you make it with gourmet cheeses picked up at local markets, it’s a whole different level of good. And the red cherry peppers make it even better.

KELLEY: All I know is the cheese is gone.

Bacon Jam

10 Slices good-quality smoked bacon (I used applewood from Whole Foods and Nueskes brand from Fresh Market)

2 teaspoons bacon grease

1 large yellow onion sliced thin

3 large garlic cloves minced

3 canned chipotle peppers

1 tablespoon ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons pear-infused balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 cup leftover strong black coffee

Cook bacon til done. I cook mine in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve drippings.

Saute onion in 2 teaspoons bacon grease until it starts to wilt. Add garlic and cook on low to brown and mixture begins to caramelize.

Add sugar and cook a few minutes.

Add peppers, vinegar, syrup and 1/2 cup of coffee. Cook down till liquid evaporates. Add remaining coffee and adjust seasoning at this point. You may want more vinegar, pepper or syrup, for example. Adjust to your preference.

Cook until liquid evaporates. Turn off heat and cool.

Process in blender till course. Serve warm or room temp.

Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup. Store in fridge if there is any left.

Pimento Cheese

Pick 2-3 varieties of your favorite cheese and grate. I used:

1/2 block Sweetwater Valley Farm Adobo

1/3 block Cabot Vermont Sharp White Cheddar

1/3 block Bonnie Blue Farm Mooleen

1/4 small white onion

1 large cherry red pepper

4-5 sundried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pimientos

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

4-5 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise

Process all ingredients in food chopper and combine all with mayo. Add more if you like it creamier.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com.