Todd Richards’s Grilled Peach Toast With Spicy Pimento Cheese
Pimento cheese is a Southern classic, but the combination of spicy, smoky pimento cheese — spiked with bacon and the adobo that comes in a can of chipotle chiles — and sweet, juicy peaches could only come from the mind of a chef. Todd Richards of Richards’ Southern Fried in Atlanta’s Krog Street Market and the author of “Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes” (Oxmoor House, 2018) calls this his ideal summer breakfast, “along with a glass of champagne.” If you don’t want to use a grill, just toast the bread and use the peaches freshly sliced.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 4slices bacon
- 1tablespoon olive oil
- 2small red bell peppers, stems removed, finely diced (about 1 1/4 cups) or 1 cup diced canned pimentos
- 2teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers
- ¼cup mayonnaise
- 1tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Crystal
- ½teaspoon dry mustard
- ½teaspoon granulated garlic, or use garlic powder
- ¼teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 4ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 4ounces sharp yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2tablespoons thinly sliced chives
- 2large firm-ripe peaches, halved and pitted
- 3tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
- 4large slices boule-style bread (1/2-inch thick), preferably multigrain
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- ¼cup thinly sliced red radishes (about 3 ounces, optional)
- 1small bunch watercress, thick stems removed, or use arugula or curly mustard greens (optional)
Step 1Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium-high for 5 to 6 minutes or until just crisp (but not crunchy). Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels; chop into coarse pieces. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, and set aside. Wipe out the skillet clean, but don’t worry if there are brown bits stuck to the pan — they will loosen as you cook.
Step 2If using fresh peppers, return the skillet to medium heat. Add the oil and then the peppers and cook, stirring, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. (If using canned pimentos, just add them to the clean skillet.)
Step 3Stir in the reserved bacon drippings. Add the adobo and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the bacon, mayonnaise, vinegar, hot sauce, dry mustard, granulated garlic and black pepper. Let cool to room temperature.
Step 4In a large bowl or using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until soft. Mix in the Cheddar cheeses. Stir in bacon mixture and chives. Set aside. (Or refrigerate, covered, up to 4 days. Bring to cool room temperature for serving.)
Step 5Grill the peaches: Heat a grill to medium-high (450 degrees). Brush the peach halves with 1 tablespoon neutral oil, and place on the grates, cut sides down. Grill, uncovered, until grill marks appear and the juices begin to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from the grill, and slice each half into 4 to 6 wedges. Set aside.
Step 6Brush the bread slices on both sides with the remaining neutral oil, and place on the grill grates. Grill until the bread is toasted, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill.
Step 7Spread pimento cheese thickly on 1 side of each slice of toast. Cut each slice into 4 equal pieces, keeping them together to look like a whole slice. Top with sliced peaches. Drizzle the olive oil over the peaches, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If using, top with radish slices and watercress leaves. Serve immediately.