|From start to finish, here’s a look at Bryan Gooding’s amazing smoked pimento cheese. Photos ©Bryan Gooding|
* Or, at least in Oak Cliff, Texas
For a while, I’ve been trying to persuade good friend and fellow Posse member Bryan Gooding to write about some of his barbecue recipes.
But the reigning chicken king of Oak Cliff has been reluctant to share. He has guarded his secrets as closely as Kentucky Fried.
Maybe for good reason. Bryan has twice won the award for best chicken at the Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook-off, including last year. He also has won best sausage and, along with his wife, Martha, helped the BBQ Posse win two People’s Choice awards. The seventh annual Blues, Bandits is scheduled for November in Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood. It’s always a fun time.
Since moving to the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest earlier this year, however, Bryan has changed. Is he becoming less competitive in his advancing years? Has the mellow mood of the island life got him with all the tree felling and crab trapping?
Whatever the reason, Bryan has decided to reveal some of his secrets, in his own words and photos, starting with his great smoked pimento cheese:
Hatch Pimento Cheese (Apple Smoked)
This has always been a favorite to serve at the Blues, Bandits, BBQ Cook-off and has been a good give-away to the testing crowds.
Personalize the recipe through your choice of wood, flavor of cheese and the type of fresh pepper.
During hatch season I usually smoke a large bag of hot and mild hatch peppers. Anytime I smoke I usually throw in jalapenos while the pit is warming up. Poblano peppers are also good to use and are a milder alternative.
Once smoked, seed and dice them. You can freeze any leftovers for use later. Also be careful not to overwhelm your cheese with too much smoke or use woods that can taste tarry (mesquite).
Once made, store your pimento cheese in the refrigerator and it can last about a week. This recipe will produce about six cups of pimento cheese.
8 large hatch peppers diced (smoked and seeded)
2 lb. block gouda cheese (avail. Costco), cheddar or Monterrey Jack
3 – 4 oz jars sliced or diced pimento peppers, drained and chopped finely
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Set up smoker with a small chimney of charcoal and, once lit, add the wood of your choice.
I have done this recipe with alder, pecan, oak, and apple. I consider these milder woods and therefore work well with cheese.
This is a chance to personalize your taste. Keep fire low or starved back to produce lots of smoke but low heat. Ideally try to keep the heat under 175 degrees.
Cut the Gouda cheese into approximately one-inch strips to expose as much surface area of the cheese to the smoke. I wrap an aluminum tray in foil (the whole tray so the smoke doesn’t stain it!) and lay cheese out evenly.
Place in smoker as far from fire as possible and low in the cooking chamber. I smoke until cheese begins to lose shape but not puddle. In these photos, this took about 30 minutes at 175 degrees.
After cheese cools, shred by hand or food processor.
In a large mixing bowl combine cheese, diced peppers (pimento and your second pepper) with mayonnaise and cayenne pepper. Then chill.
Serve with tortilla chips or crackers. Can be served on a BBQ slider or alone as an everyday pimento cheese sandwich.