Nashvillians take note. There is a new pimento cheese in town – Professor Bailey’s Spicy Pimento Cheese, to be specific.
Sometimes, it pays to know people. This was one of those times. Tom Bailey, owner and head pimento-cheese maker for Professor Bailey’s Pimento Cheese, went to high school with my brother. When I heard about his new venture, I asked if I could get an advance sample. To my surprise, he showed up on my doorstep with a cooler full of goodies. Pimento Cheese, Pimento Cheese Gougeres, AND Pimento Cheese Biscuits. [He'll soon be offering a pimento cheese mornay sauce, too.]
The gougeres and biscuits came uncooked and frozen, so into the freezer they went. I wanted to save those for a leisurely weekend breakfast. I immediately opened up the pimento cheese container, though, and had a sample.
Now, I grew up in the south – I’m actually a native Nashvillian, as is Tom. So I grew up with pimento cheese. My memory of it is as a kind of gloppy spread with something resembling cheese in it. Not the best of impressions. THIS pimento cheese, though? Professor Bailey’s Pimento Cheese? Totally different. Real cheese, clearly more than one kind, sharp, grated, just barely held together with a little mayo, and graced with enough jalapeño to give it a kick and that distinctive peppery flavor. One bite and I knew this was something different. But could I wait until the weekend for the biscuits?
It was hard, but I did manage to wait. When I finally took the biscuits out of the freezer and put them on the baking sheet my first thought was, “These are the cutest biscuits I’ve ever seen!” They even have these little hats on them. Precious. My second thought was, “I’m going to need more of these.” My third thought was, “They are SO cute!”
Ok, I’ll get off of the cute subject. But they are. Cute.
Anyway, I baked them up and they rose prfectly, lilting off to the side slightly, gaining even more personality. You can see how full of cheese they are. As is, they provide a perfect bite or two straight out of the oven. If you know me, though, you know I had to try a variety of accoutrements.
Here is the sampling I prepared. Honey butter, bacon, sausage, and extra pimento cheese. Honey butter went wonderfully with this biscuit, because, well, honey butter goes with everything! The bacon, baked with pepper and brown sugar like I learned to do when making this recipe, was perfect. There was just enough sweet, salt, and pepper to enhance, rather than overwhelm, the flavor of the biscuit.
The sausage, while delicious, did overwhelm the biscuit, so was my least favorite combination. Finally, adding just a little pimento cheese as filling lent a creamy texture that was delightful. Overall, my first and second choices would be to either have this biscuit plain - straight from the oven – or with bacon.
Are you ready for some pimento cheese and biscuits now? If so, you can find Tom at the Farmer’s Market Thursday-Sunday. Professor Bailey’s products can also be found at Lazzaroli’s pasta shop in Germantown, which is a wonderful little shop. Apparently, they make pimento cheese ravioli, too. You might just see me there, because I am fresh out of pimento cheese!