It seems like yesterday that James was graduating from Pre-K and going to the “Big School” across the street. He and his classmates were to have lunch in the cafeteria of the big school in order to familiarize and acclimate them to higher education. As you can well imagine, there was great excitement in the Rainbow and Explorer classrooms. All of the children made the transition to the “Big School” and now, this weekend, that class will be graduating from college. COLLEGE. And here’s the recipe to help you celebrate. Southern style. Deep Fried Pimento Cheese Balls. They are truly to die for. Please enjoy the photographs of our future leaders. I know I do!
This appetizer is a bit time consuming but well, well worth it! There are some guidelines that I strongly suggest you follow so the cheese balls don’t fall apart mid-fry. Prepare this in a food processor. Sure, you can mince the onion by hand and then grate all the cheese by hand but this dish takes a little time already so why add more work? I buy the small jar of chopped pimentos. It’s about 1/4 cup and again, it’s saving time, not to mention energy. I don’t substitute sweet milk for buttermilk. Buttermilk adds a welcome tang before the onslaught of drippy, spicy, gooey cheese. This is really important. DON’T use panko!! Plain ol’ regular unflavored bread crumbs are the best. I started this recipe with panko thinking I would try them out. I’ve always used plain breadcrumbs. Thank goodness I ran out and finished the recipe using the plain. You see, once you start you can’t undo your mistakes. The balls are always double dipped but, in spite of that, one minute into frying the panko balls began to spring leaks, cheese flowed into the hot oil causing a messy, sputtering mess. You HAVE to get them out of the oil ASAP or the oil will begin to pop so violently that you will most certainly get burned. And you will be left with greasy, empty bread crumb shells and a pot of cheese oil. Your cheese balls will be ruined AND that throbbing burn you just got under your eyebrow looks like it’s going to blister. Okay? Other than that you’re good to go. Oh! I use Braswell’s Red Pepper Jelly. Damn good stuff.
Deep Fried Pimento Cheese Balls
yield: approximately 75 a bit smaller than walnut size
- 1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 pound pepperjack cheese, grated
- 1/4 pound cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 small onion, liquefied
- 1/4 cup mayonaise
- 1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 2 tablespoon seasoning salt, I use Tony Chacere’s
- 2 cups flour, more if needed
- 2 cups buttermilk, more if needed
- 4 cups plain bread crumbs, more if needed
- 2 quarts peanut oil
- red pepper jelly for serving
- Combine cheddar and jack cheeses in a large bowl.
- In food processor blitz cream cheese, pimentos, 1 tablespoon seasoning salt, and mayonaise until smooth.
- Pour food processor mixture into the large bowl with cheeses and combine all well with a rubber spatula.
- Taste for seasoning, cover with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours until mixture is stiff.
- Using a melon ball scoop roll pimento cheese mixture into balls a little smaller than a walnut and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Make sure the pans fit in your freezer.
- Mix second tablespoon of seasoned salt in flour.
- In three separate shallow dishes place flour, buttermilk and breadcrumbs. This will be your breading station.
- Dip each cheese ball in the flour, then buttermilk followed by the breadcrumbs. Make certain each ball is completely covered with each of these three ingredients.
- Again, roll the ball in flour, buttermilk then breadcrumbs.
- Place trays in freezer and freeze until solid – overnight is fine.
- In a large pot, like a Le Creuset dutch oven, heat oil to 350°.
- This goes fast so pay attention. Fry 6-8 balls 2-3 minutes until golden.
- Remove from oil with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Best served immediately with red pepper jelly.