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Pimento Cheese

2012 June 26
What is it about summer that makes me want to bring out all my Southern and Southern-inspired recipes? Maybe it’s that is so nice down there for so much of the year, they have completely perfected all the best picnic food. And this one is a total classic.
A lot of people hear “pimento cheese” and immediately turn up their noses because of bad experiences with that bright orange slimy glop that grocery store delis everywhere pass off as pimento cheese. But made at home with good cheese and a couple additions from down South a proper pimento cheese spread can perk up a picnic, take your tea sandwiches to the next level or provide the filling for the ultimate grilled cheese.
There are those who will tell you pimentos and roasted red peppers work the same in this recipe. Feel free to call them a dirty lyin’ Yankee and proceed directly to the canned vegetable aisle for a jar of pimentos. Pimentos are, hands down, sweeter and tangier than red bell peppers. They’re actually a member of the chili pepper family — its mildest, in fact, according to the Scoville scale.
The real live Southerner who originally taught me about the wonders of good pimento cheese uses about a tablespoon of grated onion for a little extra tang, but I find about a tablespoon of scallions provides the same flavor plus a little added visual interested and extra texture. Using two kinds of cheddar, extra-sharp yellow and Vermont white, I think also makes it prettier. The other quirky thing I like to do is mix the mayo and other ingredients into a “dressing”and then mix it into the cheese and pimento to ensure all the flavors are dispersed evenly (I do the same thing with tuna or chicken salad, mix the mayo, lemon juice, herbs and spices together before mixing all that with the protein).
While a lot of pimento cheese recipes involve something like two pounds of cheese, I think this recipe makes a perfectly reasonable amount to take to a party or to have in the ‘fridge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still going to be tempting to just eat it with a spoon out of the bowl in front of an open refrigerator while you think about what else you want to eat, but at least you’re not going to be staring down two pounds of cheese and a cup of mayo. That said, this is easily doubled for party purposes if it’s a party of cheese freaks.
Try to hold onto at least 4 Tablespoons of this stuff until Thursday, where it will make appearance in the first installment of Burger Bonanza (stay tuned!)…

Pimento Cheese

makes about 5 cups
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces white Vermont cheddar cheese
4 ounce jar diced pimentos, drained
3 scallions, white and light green parts only (about 1 Tablespoon OR 1 Tablespoon grated onion)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (for real Southern street cred, use Duke’s)
up to 1 Tablespoon hot sauce, to taste (I prefer Tabasco but also endorse Texas Pete)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Grate cheeses into large bowl. Add drained pimentos.
In small bowl, thoroughly mix mayonnaise, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and scallions.
Pour over cheese and pimentos, stirring until cheese and pimento are thoroughly coated in dressing. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.
Great on crackers, in celery sticks, in tea sandwiches or in a fun, Southern-style grilled cheese sandwich.
2 Responses leave one →
  1. June 26, 2012

    We used to form it into a ball and roll it in chopped nuts, served with crackers. A friend of mine from Louisiana said his mom used to smother it in Jezebel Sauce and serve it that way at parties back in the day.

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