Growing up in Mississippi, I ate a lot of pimento cheese, mainly on crackers or in sandwiches with white bread. If these were the only two ways I ever consumed this wondrous spread, I would be happy, but pimento cheese can be so much more. Below you will find a multitude of tasty uses for “the caviar of the South.”
Try using Crystal [hot sauce] instead of Louisiana. It has less salt (so you can put more) and more/deeper cayenne flavour— note that I say flavour, not heat, because the label claims this uses “aged” peppers.
Here the analogy ends, because, while not even a Snoop Dogg remix could save “We Are the World,” a better fruit salad is well within reach. The trick is to dress it up with the same little flourishes that make savory salads so enticing.
Gan bian si ji dou—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. The real version should be bright and light, featuring beans with blistered skins and snappy interiors and tossed with chili-flavored oil, Sichuan peppercorns, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chopped preserved mustard root. It’s a pretty far cry from the oily, drab, pork-smothered versions you find in Chinese take-out joints. While a bit of minced pork is not totally out of the question, it’s hardly a required ingredient.
I have a passion for beans, which developed back when I used to cook for the Tuscan chef Cesare Casella. The Tuscans are famous for their beans (they’re sometimes called the mangiafagioli—bean eaters—in Italy), and Cesare is no exception. When I worked for him, he’d import thousands of pounds of beans every year from Italy, and I learned plenty of tricks from him on how to use them.
One of those tricks was this simple pasta with a sauce made from puréed beans, which I’ve made with chickpeas here. It couldn’t be easier to make: You simply sauté some garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, add some cooked beans along with some of their cooking water, then purée it to make a smooth, creamy sauce. Add a handful of whole cooked beans for some texture, and you’re basically done.
Chili is personal, and you have your favorite recipe. I respect that. I’m not here to argue with your one true chili love.
But I would bet that there are some ways that you could make your tried-and-true recipe even better. I’m just talking about little things to add extra flavor here or give some richness there—small tweaks that, when tallied up, amount to a more fantastic chili.
Some will think cinnamon in chili is an abomination. And I like cinnamon. In ice cream. On apples. In chewing gum. But in chili? It’s worth an experiment – cinnamon can do some interesting things in more savory dishes.
Instead of transferring it to the boiling pot, you could combine this tip with Alton Brown’s pour-over method to really take your rice to the next level. Either way, it’s an easy enough step, and it makes for extra tasty rice.
It starts the usual way sauces do—sauté onion and garlic, add some chile flakes, then booze, then tomatoes, but then it swerves off course. Here’s the secret to its success: You take this perfectly adequate sauce and roast it in the oven for an hour and a half.
I sometimes start my sauce by caramelizing my tomato paste in olive oil over the heat, then deglazing that with about 1/4 bottle of red wine. The sweet caramelized tomato paste/wine combo makes things really punchy in the end, even through a long simmer.
I was skeptical until I read this charming background story on Food52–apparently it comes from a legit chef in Puglia by way of two super fun women who worked for Martha and were having a great night out.