Peach And Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwiches




So here's the deal: I never count myself as a country girl. I didn't take horseback riding lessons or want a horse. I didn't date a farmer. I didn't (and don't) speak with a twang. But I definitely appreciate the fact that though it doesn't often make it onto the application, a portion of my professional resume involves helping to spearhead a baking, produce, and cut-flowers farm operation. I don't know why I appreciate it so much. I don't know. It's just cool to have lived an alternate life as a farmer, landscaper, house-builder, whatever (yes, I spent time as all these things during high school). For a whole year our lives were spent taking weeds off things and bugs off things and - when the weeds and bugs didn't prevail - taking vegetables off things. Listen: when you organically farm on a budget, there are no cool microorganisms you're ordering to do the weed-chopping and bug-pulling for you. It's pure manpower, babes. Man-power and fish emulsion.
We learned so much during this time, like how to stagger plantings so you don't end up with seventy-five large watermelons ripe at one time, and what the difference between various varieties of harmful insects is when you find them in the egg stage on the back of a leaf. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. For months we kept thousands upon thousands of seedlings alive under bright lights in our pantry and had such an extensive little operation going that neighbors and friends alike questioned whether we'd abandoned all principles and gone in for marijuana farming (spoiler: we hadn't). One thing I gained from what I felt like perceiving as an all-round negative experience was an understanding of farm-to-table operations and appreciation for cooking in step with the seasons. I've kept in touch with those things in the years since - in fact, I'm a lot more passionate now about both those things. There's something about living closely with the earth for a year that syncs your heart to the rhythm of the seasons. You know exactly when it last rained (you don't have to unfurl the giant network of hoses to water your crops); you feel the slightest relief in temperature. Every breeze is a blessing and every patch of softer soil a relief to arms weary of hoeing. Even after you've moved away from those days, the instinct is there.



To me, farm-to-table restaurants are not an over-used tactic. They're places I want deeply to support because I know exactly what kind of exhaustion went into getting that green pepper from a dry, rattling seed to a vegetable on my plate. One of my favorite restaurants to operate this way is Commune in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I've written before about how much I love their food and the imaginative way they take the season's bounty and celebrate it on the menu. To this day, one of my favorite things I've had at the restaurant is their peach and pimento grilled cheese sandwich. I wasn't sure, honestly, how I felt about the idea of peaches and bacon and pimento cheese? I mean in theory cheese and bacon make almost anything (re: everything) better. But peaches? Would this actually work? Curious, I ordered the sandwich off the menu and by the time I'd taken my first bite, I was sold. Tangy, creamy, salty, and savory all at once with a fantastic criss-cross of textures. In-season peaches taste like sunlight. Out of season peaches taste like when you think somebody is waving at you across a room so you yell hello and wave back and it turns out they meant it for someone else. Commune is dedicated to using only local ingredients and because peach season is so brief, this sandwich isn't long for the menu. Thankfully, I figured out how to recreate it at home! For this recipe we make homemade pimento cheese, sizzle up some bacon end pieces, and get to work on this absolutely bonkers sandwich. Unless it happens to be peach season where you live, I recommend using frozen peaches which you can thaw for a few moments before griddling your sandwiches. I used to look down on using frozen veggies and fruit for anything until I realized that frozen veggies can be ripened to the perfect shade and then quickly put away, unlike other produce which has to be picked early and stashed away in darkness for grocery store shelves. Of course it's better to cook in-season but look, cravings hit. For any recipe that requires some fruit or vegetable that is not currently in season, try looking for the frozen version; it's guaranteed to be fresher and more ripe than its out-of-season counterparts!  


Peach & Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
makes 4 sandwiches
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
black pepper
16 ounces grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces pimentos, drained
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup sliced peaches 
8 ounces bacon, cooked (I like to use the bacon end pieces from Trader Joe's)
8 slices sourdough bread
butter
  1. To make pimento cheese, mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, grated cheese, pimentos, and chopped dill in a medium bowl until well blended. Set aside.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over low heat on stove. Butter slices of bread. Assemble sandwiches by spreading bread with pimento cheese, adding peaches, and pieces of bacon. Dab on a little more pimento cheese, add second slice of bread, and continue to cook over low heat, flipping once and smashing with the back of your spatula. Remove to plates and enjoy hot!

All photos by Kerri at Talking Cactus Photography! She's one cool person and we're going to be collaborating on some neat photo projects in the future, so get used to her handiwork around here. Cheers!

2 comments

  1. Everything you make looks so delicious!

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    Replies
    1. Skye, I just have to tell you how uplifting your comments are. Thank you for always being an active and interested participant in blog life! <3

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