When I was a kid, an easy sandwich was pimento cheese. It came from a small, narrow jar and was basically a cheese sandwich with red flecks in it (pimentos) that to me tasted like nothing.
I was an adult before I realized people actually made pimento cheese. To give it a novel spin, I decided to make it "within" cornbread. It's a regular now. There are only three ways I make cornbread: regular, coarse; "Tippin's Style" (based on a restaurant chain in K.C. that uses half cornmeal and half white cake mix); and the cheesy style below. It's just about as easy to make as regular cornbread, and gets raves from your guests.
• 1 can (4 to 5 ounces) mild chopped green chiles
• Two 4-ounce jars (or cans) of pimentos
• 1 stick butter, divided
• 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
• 2 large eggs
• 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut 1 ounce from stick to butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan on bottom and sides. Microwave remaining butter for 15 seconds on high or until melted. Set aside.
2. Drain green chiles and pimentos in a strainer. Leave to continue draining until needed.
3. In a bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, paprika, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Do not overmix. Add in grated cheese, chiles, and pimentos and stir just until mixed.
4. Spread mixture in the pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn out of pan, slice and serve.
This is best on the day it's served, but if storing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.
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