Few things are more perilous than a vehicle full of hungry toddlers, teenagers and their dad. It takes multiple promises of a 60-second-dinner-on-the-table-once-we-get-home to keep tempers at bay and to keep them from spending $60 at a restaurant for a less than fabulous meal.
On one such evening, we were shuttling towards the house with much snarling and grumbling, and I was desperately wracking my brain for things that were in the fridge and pantry to throw together as a tasty, filling, healthy FAST meal with the handy standby of chicken thighs.
As usual, we passed a little church that is forever posting pithy-country religious sayings, and I always read them because these are NOT marquis sayings pulled from the internet, believe me. On this particular evening the bulletin board said, “Say Cheese-you're on God's Polearroid.” I still haven't figured out if they just misspelled “Polaroid” (it was like that on both sides of the board) or if it was some inside joke or what.
But as I struggled with that mystery, I realized I had a small amount of homemade pimento cheese left in the fridge!
So, when we got home I preheated the oven and schmeared the pimento cheese on the thighs I had patted dry, plopped them on a baking sheet and baked them till the thighs were done and the cheese melted and lightly crispy on top. Served with fresh olive oil and lemon green beans and some grain rolls the guys were happy, and I was pretty tickled with my “divine inspiration” that got me out of being desperate and into some tasty dinner!
Thank you little tiny church on the side of the road! I don't what the sign was supposed to mean, but it helped me, nonetheless!
(On a side note, one time this particular bulletin board advertised a “Distaster Relief Bake Sale”-also on both sides.)
Wrightsboro Pimento Cheese
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise (to be ultra-South use Duke's. To be uber-chic, make your own!)
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained (Ms. Elsie always canned her own pimentos. They were the best!)
1 tsp. finely grated onion
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded (I like the Cabot White)
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Mix all together till well incorporated and store in fridge. You can eat same day, but it really needs to rest one day before you eat it on a sandwich. IF there's any left, proceed with the chicken recipe!
4 good sized chicken thighs rinsed and patted dry
There's no need to grease this pan! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in pan, salt lightly and put 2 tablespoons pimento cheese on each thigh. You needn't spread the cheese on the chicken-the heat from the oven will do that! Place on the TOP rack of the oven and bake for 45 minutes. IF you want cheese extra crisp, broil on high for 2 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Samantha Smith writes about the intersection of food and faith from her copious collection of cookbooks and her extensive experience in the kitchen. She writes for Wilmington Faith & Values.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.