My wife is a Filipina raised primarily in Texas, that equates to a lot of different food traditions that this suburban D.C. boy had to learn over the years. Through the tocino, chicken fried steak, adobo, and ranch on everything, one thing that struck me as the most odd was pimento cheese—cheddar, mayo, and pimentos...really? Of course, all it took was one try of this Southern spread and I was a complete convert, now my biggest problem is trying to restrain myself from unhealthy quantities whenever we whip up a batch.
There isn't much to the recipe form pimento cheese—mine came from the back of a Jim N' Nick's business card—but I've found the devil is in the details. It all starts with the cheese, which calls for a grated sharp cheddar. I've seen pimento cheese with coarsely grated cheddar, but I put my stock into a smooth, creamier spread, which requires a finer grate, but not too fine, because a little texture is also nice.
Then comes the pimentos, which I sometimes make myself by roasting red peppers over a hot grill or stove burner until completely charred, then letting them rest in a bowl covered in plastic wrap until cool, and finally peeling and chopping. I'm not always in the mood for the extra work though, and I think jarred pimentos really end up tasting just about the same, so laziness often prevails.
Then these two primary ingredients are mixed with mayo (the original recipe calls for Duke's, but I can't find that in New York, so I stick with Hellmann's), hot sauce, and cayenne.
With that, an amazing spread is born. Give me a package of Club crackers and I'll easily down a whole tub of creamy pimento cheese in one sitting. The mayo melds so seamlessly into the cheese, while the pimentos add an addictive, fresher flavor, that often makes me forget just how bad this stuff probably is for you. It's no matter though when I'm happily gorging, and just thinking how lucky I am to have a wife that brought such an amazing food into my life.
- Yield 3 cups
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Total 10 Minutes
- 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 7-oz jar pimentos, drained and finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a medium bowl mix together cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, hot sauce, and cayenne. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
You Might Also Like
Ron Lennex Love me some pimento cheese, buddy. Down here in Texas, you can actually get really good (non-superprocessed) versions of it at the deli cheese counter in grocery stores. Hand made and no work.
Thomas S. Should I organize a "Smokey and The Bandit"-esque run of Dukes north of the line?
Josh @Thomas S. I honestly don't know what I'm missing. What makes Duke's special?
Ron Lennex Never had Duke's. Don't think I've ever even seen Duke's in the store here in the Austin area. We use Hellmann's.
Thomas S. @Josh It isn't anything particularly amazing but more of a traditional southern ingredient. Greenville, SC is my hometown so we would see it used more than anything else. I will do a little research and get back if I find anything interesting.
Phil in France So THAT'S what pimentos are?!?! Just roasted red peppers? Here I was, avoiding the making of pimento cheese because of my lamentable lack of the 'pimentos,' and they were growing in my back yard the whole time.
This changes everything.
Chris I have to disagree with you on the jarred pimentos, they don't taste NEAR as good as either roasting peppers yourself or dicing up jarred roasted red peppers. I know it is supposed to be the same thing but those "pimentos" in the little jars are just so watery and tasteless.
That stuff is good isn't it? I like it best on sandwiches but it also rocks Jucy Lucy style in burgers. Once we even deep fried some.
Josh @Chris I agree with you on the jarred peppers for most purposes, but mixed into pimento cheese, the jarred do very well in my opinion.
Deep-fried pimento cheese balls have always been on my to-do list. Think I may need to get on that before the Meatwave season is over.
Mike Upon returning to Dixie, I rekindled my love affair with Duke's. My wife is from California and is a die hard Best Food's (Hellman's) fan so we end up stocking both. They taste different, but like everything else, it's a matter of personal taste.
Every now and again, I'll use piquillo peppers instead of red peppers. If you have a Hispanic grocery nearby, you can probably find them.
One thing that's universal is Duke's. It's pretty much non-existent out of the South.