The Superbowl is upon us and I’m sure most people who are having parties have already placed their orders for wing trays and veggie platters and have stocked up on chips, salsa, and onion dip. Perhaps you want something just a little different? Maybe you’ve had more people show up than you expected or they came with a bigger appetite than anticipated. Heck, sometimes it’s just good to have a few things in the fridge that you can grab, mix, assemble and in short order look like you were ready all along!
Hors d’oevres can run the gamut for frilly fancy canapes to the basic chips and salsa in the ceramic sombrero serving dish. If you’re planning a Superbowl party I’m willing to bet that the focus is going to be on the commercials, the game and the food. Probably in that same order. Which is why, as a chef I should cringe at saying this, it probably doesn’t pay to put a whole lot of work into your food offerings. I’m not saying they shouldn’t taste great and be appealing…just that your guests probably aren’t going to care that you made the savory tart dough a day ahead so that it could rest before you pressed it carefully into the fluted tart molds for baking…etc. You get the idea…superbowl fans want good food and lots of it but it doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy.
Cue the Convenience Products…
As much as I am all for cooking from scratch and encourage people to do it themselves, I occasionally like to play a certain game while shopping at the grocery store.
The goal: How to make something with as few steps as possible using mostly convenience products. Quite honestly, sometimes it might not even be that convenient in the end. When teaching culinary at the collegiate level, I once had a teaching assistant tell me that I was the only person he knew that could take a convenience product and make it inconvenient!
While convenience products aren’t the most economical means of cooking, and often contain more fat, sugar and calories than we need and want, there are certain times when it can be good to have the “convenience” of a shortcut. Convenience products like the tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Dough sheets are great to have on hand. Likewise are tubs of spreadable cheese spreads such as the creamy garlic and herb varieties. Living here in the south, Pimento Cheese is the cheese spread of choice. Easy to make on its own, it’s also available by the tub in any grocery store you happen to walk into (ok, maybe not in areas beyond the south but it can be made in large batches and kept on hand. Chances are you’ll come up with plenty of things to eat it on…like say perhaps a spoon, standing in front of the refrigerator, late at night, with only the glow of the interior light to illuminate the sensual creamy delicious goodness of “processed cheese food stuff” that will lull you back to sleep).
Just the other day I had one of “those moments”…what I might title a “white trash culinary epiphany”. I was in the grocery store and suddenly the sky opened up, and a bright light shone down on the Pillsbury Crescent Sheets. My gaze was afixed as it then bounced over to the pimento cheese spread and a loud voice boomed: “Feed the multitudes on the day of the great game. Go ye forth and bake up some warm cheesy bacon goodness. Their appetites will be satisfied, grateful shall they be and ye will be exalted for thy culinary creativity” -Piggly Wiggly #81, Aisle 10
Thus was born not so much of a “recipe” per se, but a “concoction”. A simple quickie hors d’ouevres that can be quickly assembled and baked to feed the masses.
By the way…if you have a more creative name for this, please share your thoughts![print_this]
Pimento Cheese & Bacon Strips
Yield: 16 pieces (or enough to feed 2 Superbowl fans)
4 strips smoked bacon (or be really lazy and use the pre-cooked bacon…slacker!)
1 tube Pillsbury brand Crescent Roll Dough Sheet
1 12-oz tub pimento cheese spread (or 1 1/2 cups homemade)
1/2 cup diced yellow or red onion
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut bacon cross-wise into small pieces. Place in a heated saute pan and cook over medium low heat until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered out. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and put on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb grease.
Unroll crescent roll dough sheet on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut the dough in half length-wise so that you have two long pieces. Separate so there is about 1-2 inches between the dough strips. Taste the pimento cheese and doctor the flavor if necessary. I sometimes add onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, a touch of hot sauce…it’s up to you. If it doesn’t need anything you’re good to go. Divide the cheese down the center of each of the dough strips and spread out slightly, leaving a half-inch wide border of dough on all sides. Sprinkle diced onions and the cooked bacon on top of the cheese. Fold the long sides of the dough up toward the center, leaving the center exposed. Tuck the ends in and pinch the corners together.
Place baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 15-17 minutes or until dough is nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool for about 8-10 minutes before cutting into strips and serving.[/print_this]