31 Aug Sweet Corn & Hatch Buttermilk Biscuits with Ricotta Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese
As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!
Perhaps slightly out of context, these words from Scarlett O’Hara, the quintessential southern lady, perfectly define the outpouring emotion I have felt each time I’ve consumed pimento cheese up until this point in my life. The ultimate southern food — dubbed “The Caviar of the South” and perhaps outranked in southern-ness only by the likes of grits and well, biscuits (<– more to come on those) — as a quote southern gal I suppose I’m expected to not only love pimento cheese, but also have a preferred recipe, frequently served spread between slices of white bread in dainty tea sandwiches, or spiked with hot sauce and served alongside tortilla chips and crudités. Sorry to disappoint y’all but this is not the case.
The sad truth is, that until now I have never been able to stomach the stuff. I suppose this means I’ll never be a proper Southern lady. But please, let me explain.
It’s all because of the mayo. Generally speaking, I avoid mayonnaise like the plague (exceptions are made for garlicky aioli), so the idea of gunking up one of my all-time favorite foods (cheese, obviously) with copious amounts of it is entirely unappealing. Blegh.
But as a true lover of cheese, it’s my life goal to adore it in all forms, even those that initially appear less than savory. Blue Cheese? Gimme. Camembert? Goat? Done and done. Even stinkier? Still working on it. #cheesegoals
Pimento cheese, while not stinky, falls into that last category. All that beautiful sharp cheddar, and sometimes Velveeta (is it even real cheese? Still love it.) ruined…until now. With pimento cheese’s recent surge in popularity (see Molly’s harissa-spiked version, or this local-Austin version with Sriracha) I figured it was damn well time to make develop a palatable version of my own.
I started by dissecting a pimento cheese recipe into its individual parts, identifying each ingredients’ specific purpose. In its most basic form, we have sharp cheddar as the backbone, chosen for its cheesy bite and texture, then we add in onion and garlic for a savory punch, salt and pepper for seasoning, mayo for creaminess and spreadability, and of course, pimento peppers for their mild sweetness and a hint of ruby color. According to my tastebuds, all of the previously listed ingredients are delicious save for one — the mayo. What could I substitute that would provide the appropriate creamy consistency but take things up several notches of yum? The answer was clear: ricotta. Cheese ON Cheese, what could be better?!
And thus, this Ricotta Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese was born. I substituted a blend of sharp white cheddar and deliciously smoky gouda for traditional cheddar, and used roasted hatch chiles instead of pimentos because ‘tis the season for hatch chiles. I suppose that means this isn’t technically pimento cheese at all, but calling this pimento-style cheese added another word to an already lengthy post title so let’s just overlook that minor detail.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE BISCUITS! Equally delicious and just as simple to make, they’re the perfect fluffy-on-the-inside, toasty-on-the-outside vehicle for cheesy goodness. I’ve yet to post a biscuit recipe on Butterlust, so when King Arthur Flour sent me a bag of their unbleached self-rising flour to try out, I hopped at the opportunity to put my own spin on this tried-and-true Southern favorite for y’all. This recipe uses King Arthur Flour’s easy-peasy recipe for Self-Rising Buttermilk Biscuits with the addition of sweet corn and roasted hatch chiles. Since the self-rising flour already contains leaveners, half the work is already done for you. All you have to do is add in the wet ingredients + the fixin’s and you’ve got buttery, homemade biscuits in less than 30 minutes.
I’m sometimes a little skeptical of “short-cuts” when it comes to baking but this flour mix did not disappoint. The resulting biscuits are fluffy and light with a crisp golden exterior and a deep buttery flavor — add a smudge of pimento cheese and a drizzle of honey before serving and you won’t know what hit you. You’ll certainly not have any issue finding yourself hungry for more. (Trust me, I ate three.)
TIPS FOR BETTER BISCUITS
USE COLD INGREDIENTS — the butter and buttermilk should be cold cold cold! Freeze the butter beforehand for best results.
GRATE YOUR BUTTER — instead of cutting your butter in with a pastry cutter or fork, grate cold butter and then freeze for 15 minutes before mixing into the flour.
DON’T OVER-MIX — as with most pastry doughs, avoid over-mixing the dough. Stop stirring just as the dough comes together, and while you may need to knead it briefly to distribute the corn & hatch chile evenly, only knead once or twice.
DON’T TWIST YOUR BISCUITS — when using a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits, avoid a twisting motion as it can mess with the formation of flaky layers.
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon grated onion (or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)
- 2 hatch chilies, roasted and chopped
- salt, to taste
- 2 cups King Arthur Flour Self-Rising Flour
- 1/4 cup butter, cold
- 2/3 cups buttermilk, cold
- 2 hatch chilies, roasted and chopped
- 3/4 cup sweet corn kernels, cooked
- melted butter for brushing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and ricotta and beat on low until smooth.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and blend on low until smooth. Add salt to taste, though use caution, cheese is already fairly salty and the flavor will develop as the mixture rests.
- Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Preheat to oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the flour and then cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or flour until there are pea sized chunks.
- Add the in the buttermilk and mix until just slightly, then add in the corn and hatch chile. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is still slightly shaggy.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. Need 2-3 times to evenly distribute the corn and chiles. then form into a ball. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1-inch thick.
- Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits, placing each biscuit round onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Roll any leftover dough back into a ball and repeat.
- Brush the top of each biscuit with melted butter then back for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve warm with pimento cheese and honey.