Tailgate Thursday {fried pimiento mac ‘n cheese plus dueling ribs}

Last Saturday was a good one.  Especially for the Pirates.  As I mentioned on Monday, my youngest brother was in town visiting for the weekend.  Logan loves South Carolina football at about the same intensity as Big Guy loves East Carolina football.  Unfortunately, Logan wasn’t so happy after their noon game but thankfully he rallied and enjoyed the rest of the football-filled day.  And when I say football-filled, I mean every moment from noon until about 11 pm was filled with football.  We had quite the set-up in our living room:  we moved the t.v. from another room into the living room so there was no chance of missing anything.

{pic stolen from Big Guy’s instagram}

In addition for sharing a love of college football, Big Guy and Logan also share a love of pimiento cheese – specifically Palmetto Pimiento Cheese.  It really is the best store-bought pimiento cheese (though I disagree with their spelling of “pimento”) ever.  I was pretty darn excited to tell Logan my plans for fried pimiento mac ‘n cheese bites as an appetizer while watching all the games.

On Saturday morning I prepped the pimiento mac ‘n cheese so that it would be ready to fry that afternoon.  Simply cook macaroni according to the box directions then drain and set aside.  For the pimiento cheese sauce, make a roux with butter and flour and then add the milk, stirring until thick (seriously – stir continuously to avoid burning the sauce).  Once thickened, add in the pimiento cheese (I used the original pimiento cheese) and remove from the heat.  Stir and add salt and pepper, as needed.  Add in the cooked noodles and then cover and cool until you’re ready to fry up some mac ‘n cheese bites.

This is where it gets a little tricky (just being honest) and it’s also where I am really glad that Logan was in town to help.  Big Guy was no help when it came to these nuggets of deliciousness.

To make the bites, take a scoop of mac ‘n cheese and form into a ball (about the size of a golf ball).  Note:  these need to be tightly packed and this is where my brother’s strength came in handy.  Then roll in Panko.  Fry in oil at about 350 to 360 degrees.

We were able to fry two or three at a time and they don’t take long in the oil.  Under a minute each.  Some fell apart – but that’s okay.  The end result is so worth the effort.

I’m drooling just looking at that picture from Saturday.  I served the mac ‘n cheese balls with more Palmetto Pimiento Cheese (this was the jalapeno version).  To make into a sauce, simply place in the microwave until melted.  So simple – I told Logan this needs to be his new “go-to” appetizer if he ever goes to watch a game at a friends house (one ingredient = man’s best friend).

These were incredible.  Holy delicious.  The texture was perfect.  The flavors were perfect.  And they were worth every.single.calorie.

During all the football watching, Big Guy and Logan were also manning the smoker that was busy smoking ribs.  We thought it would be fun to have “dueling ribs” and tested out two different recipes.  The ribs weren’t done until about 9 pm – which worked out because well, fried pimiento man’ n cheese bites happened.  And also we were in luck because Sarah and Ryan (our travel buddies) stopped by to watch the ECU game and ate with us – there was a TON of food.

I’m going to warn you – ribs don’t take pretty pictures, especially at night.  But they were delicious.

ribs

Here are the links to both recipes that we used:

Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Root Beer BBQ Sauce (the sauce was awesome)

The Ultimate Barbecued Ribs

And since man can’t survive on ribs and fried mac n’ cheese bites alone, I whipped up a quick salad was the perfect side dish for the ribs.  The salad and dressing recipe are loosely based off these recipes from Southern Living.

harvest salad

The salad base was a mix of iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce that was topped with shredded white cheddar, feta cheese, spiced pecans, and apples.

The dressing is definitely one you should try.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find sorghum, but I subbed in molasses.  After tasting the dressing, I ended up adding a few more tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for a little more tang.

Another successful “tailgate at home” for the books.  And the Pirates are now 3 – 2 going into another away game this weekend.  On Saturday we face the BYU Cougars in Utah with a 7:30 pm kick-off.

Go Pirates!

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