It baffles me that there are still people in this world that don’t know what pimiento cheese is. What?! How can this be?!?!
I basically grew up on the neon-orange cheese spread. Big globs of the stuff nestled between two slices of white bread. That was my ultimate lunch on those sticky-hot dog days of summer.
When you talk to people outside of the southeastern states of America though, they look at you all crazy-eyed when you try to explain pimiento cheese. Pimiento cheese, in itself, actually sounds really weird as a sandwich filler. Shredded cheddar (or American) cheese, mixed with mayonnaise, mixed with tiny pimientos. So simple, yet so strange.
I’ve had plenty of fancy pimiento cheeses in my lifetime—including a smoked gouda one that is TOPS. But I still find myself craving the original O.G.—that bright orange, speckled spread. That is a sandwich worth craving!
I dug up this recipe the other day and was smitten immediately. If there’s one thing better than pimiento cheese sandwiches, it’s macaroni and cheese. This mac & cheese recipe doesn’t actually include pimiento cheese spread, but the cheese sauce is made with shredded cheddar cheese and jarred pimientos. Add in some cayenne for a spicy kick and WOW! This mac & cheese almost makes you forget about your pimiento cheese obsession all together.
Pimiento Cheese & Mac with Chicken Sausage
- 12 oz. small elbow macaroni
- 2 bunches broccolini (about 1 pound) chopped
- 3 TBS. unsalted butter
- 4 links sweet Italian chicken sausage, sliced
- 2 TBS. all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1 (4 oz) jar chopped pimientos, drained
- 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Add chopped broccolini during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain macaroni and broccolini and rinse under cold water.
- In a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven, melt 2 TBS. of butter over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove cooked sausage to a plate and set aside.
- Add flour to sausage drippings and stir, cook for about 30 seconds. Whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened about 3 minutes.
- Whisk in the cream cheese until mixture is smooth, then stir in the shredded Cheddar cheese, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir in pimientos.
- Add pasta and broccolini and sausages to the pot and stir until everything is well coated with cheese sauce.
- Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl and add panko, stir it until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle panko mix over the top of the mac & cheese and broil in oven for a few minutes until breadcrumbs are browned.
I ate this fancy mac & cheese for daysss after I made it. It was so good! Everything I love about pimiento cheese and macaroni and cheese combined, plus my new favorite veggie broccolini.
Broccolini can be a little on the pricey side (mine was damn near $5 a bunch) but it is well worth it. They are basically sweeter than regular sized broccoli and their taste is more intense. I can’t get enough of the stuff!
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