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Why you should make potato salad with pepper cheese


A Big Little Recipe has the smallest possible ingredient list and everything in between: taste, creativity, wow factor. Psst: We don’t count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter) as we assume you have those silverware. Today we are getting corny.


In its smallest form, pepper cheese requires canned peppers, grated cheese, and, most importantly, plenty of mayonnaise. But most recipes rarely stop there.

This Genius of Parker and Otis in Durham, North Carolina, asks for celery salt. Food Writers Matt Lee and Ted Lee add cream cheese and chili flakes. Southern life He prefers Worcestershire sauce, grated onion, and crispy walnuts. Chef and cookbook author Sean Brock opt for Tabasco, cayenne, smoked paprika and pickled ramps (!).

Not only do they all seem to have their own version, but some have several. Chef Ashley Christensen trusts Red peppers for the pepper cheese in his modern Poole’s restaurant, but he gets ready poblanos to your fried chicken oasis refuge Beasley’s heaven. Why not, right? Peppers shouldn’t have as much fun.

Whether you prefer Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise, yellow or white cheddar cheese, hot sauce or chipotles, vinegar or not, I have a feeling that at least you agree that pepper cheese doesn’t involve … boiled potatoes.

Or does it?

Sure, pepper cheese is traditionally treated as a dip or spread, for crackers, crudites, or tucked into soft bread like a sandwich, but it’d be a shame to limit something with so much potential. That’s why you will find pepper cheese reinvented like everything from a biscuit to a soufflé.

But perhaps the most natural use of this creamy, cheesy cream is in some of the summer’s best hits: mayonnaise-based salads. Think: potato salad, macaroni salad, even coleslaw. In all these dishes, a mayonnaise-based dressing is prepared, then the main ingredient is added, be it potatoes, elbow or grated cabbage. So what if that mayonnaise based dressing was actually (also mayonnaise based) pepper cheese?

Amanda Widis photo

Suffice it to say: Spuds have never been so happy. The rest of the recipe is classic. We have cheddar cheese and mayonnaise (thoughts about brands? Oh, I have plenty). But not peppers, I’m waiting. Which seems to defeat the whole purpose, I realize, but there is more precedent for this than you think.

Instead, I use Peppadews, a pickled sweet pepper native to South Africa. In addition to its crispness and cheery color, Peppadews comes with its own vinegar pickle, an additional Big Little ingredient. If you don’t have or can’t get peppadews, pickled cherry peppers would be a compelling substitute. Or go ahead and grill some peppers or poblano peppers, add and shake in any vinegar you have.

Combine this salad with grilled chicken breasts or pork chops, grilled tofu steaks or veggie burgers, sausage sandwiches, or salt and pepper ribs. You tell me.

What do you think?

Written by VeriFiz

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