If there's one thing Richmonders (and Southerners in general) love more than their summers, it's pimento cheese. Known fondly as "the caviar of the South," folks across the region love this simple spread of cheddar cheese, creamy mayonnaise and sweet peppers on pretty much everything - from crunchy crackers or toasted bread to fried green tomatoes or BLTs.
There are brilliant culinary minds out there experimenting with the wide variety of ingredients and variations one can create with simple pimento cheese. I've been to several restaurants in Richmond and nearby Charlottesville where pimento cheese is the standout ingredient in an entree or appetizer.
Last summer, I had the pan-seared sea scallops entree at one of my favorite restaurants — now closed, unfortunately — and it turned out toe be one of my favorite meals; but not because of the scallops. Well yes, the scallops were fabulous, but what really stood out was the summery, potato hash that was topped with a creamy pimento cheese sauce.
I recreated this hash using sweet potatoes, grilled corn, sweet onions, and smoky bacon and served it as a side with grilled chicken (scallops are next on the list!). If you're a vegetarian, this is pretty hearty and could definitely serve as a meal of its own.
Topping a dish with pimento cheese is like putting the perfect bow on top of a present.
And this might be the prettiest bow on the best present of the summer, y'all.
Sweet Potato Hash with Corn and Pimento Cheese
- 1 slice of bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
- 2 small or 1 large sweet potato
- 1 chopped sweet yellow onion
- 2 ears corn, shucked and cooked
- Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 cup Pimento cheese
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Cajun seasoning
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
1. Chop onion and sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch or 1 inch cubes (the smaller they are, the crispier they get while cooking). Cook two ears of corn however you'd like - I prefer to grill it.
3. Lower heat to medium and add a big swirl of EVOO and 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Add the chopped onions and saute until tender and translucent, 4-5 minutes.
4. Add chopped sweet potatoes and additional oil if necessary. Season to taste with onion powder, garlic powder, salt pepper, and Cajun spices. I usually do 1 teaspoon of each and adjust as necessary. Cook in a single layer for about 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Then, increase the heat to medium high and cook, without stirring, until the potatoes are golden and crisp, about 2 more minutes.
5. Gently add corn to skillet and season with Old Bay.
6. Add spoonfuls of Pimento Cheese spread to different sections of the skillet and stir to combine, melting the cheese into the hash. Add more as necessary. Serve hot, topped with additional Pimento Cheese, if desired.