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Down South Pimiento Mac and Cheese

Down South Pimiento Mac and Cheese

¼ c. kosher salt
1 qt. milk
6 T. butter, cut into pieces
6 T. four
1 lb. penne pasta, or your favorite
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
½ c. finely minced Vidalia onion
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco, to taste
Kosher salt/black pepper
2 c. panko bread crumbs
1 T. olive oil
2 (7-oz.) jars diced pimiento, drained
2 (2.52-oz.) pkgs. fully cooked bacon, diced
Chopped fresh chives, garnish

  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 9-10 inches from heat.
  2. Bring ¼ c. kosher salt and 4 qt. of water to boil.
  3. Microwave milk in glass measuring cup on HIGH for 3 minutes.
  4. While milk is heating, melt butter in 12” cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add flour and whisk constantly and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium high and bring to low boil, whisking often.
  7. Add pasta to boiling water and cook only 8 minutes (it will finish cooking in the remaining process.)
  8. Continue to cook sauce, whisking often for 5-6 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco and salt/pepper, to taste. Cover.
  10. Stir together panko and olive oil.
  11. Drain pasta and fold into cheese sauce.
  12. Stir in pimiento and bacon. Taste for seasoning.
  13. Sprinkle with panko mixture.
  14. Broil 1-2 minutes or until crumbs are golden.
  15. Garnish with chopped chives.
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