It’s another recipe Monday on the blog! And this would have been a great appetizer for watching the game last night – I wish I could have pulled this together in time but I still think it’s worth sharing.
I once read an editorial in a southern magazine about the glories of growing up on pimento cheese. The author called it the peanut butter and jelly of his youth and I could not agree more. I definitely had more pimento cheese sandwiches than I ever did PB and Js and I won’t apologize for it! Sadly, because my kids live in New England they think they don’t like it (bless their hearts) but I know those southern roots are in there somewhere and they will come around one day.
The funny thing is, pimento cheese is kind of hip these days. Northern friends are coming around to it like they are to grits – I’ve seen it highlighted in the New York Times and finding it’s way on to more than a few fancy menus, although nothing in Maine (yet!)
In fact, speaking of Maine, about 5 years ago I stopped into a neighborhood halloween party with the kids, and the host (who only lived here about a year) had pimento cheese and crackers sitting out. I could NOT believe it and I said, “Oh my goodness I have never seen anyone up north serve pimento cheese?!?! Do you have family in the south???” She looked at me so funny and said, “Oh no, that’s roasted red pepper and cheddar spread.” I might have given her the side eye when I said, “Ahhh, so it has mayonnaise and roasted red peppers (aka pimentos) and cheddar all mixed up?” I asked. “Yes!” she said. “How did you know?”
Ummmm, hello – that’s pimento cheese you damn yankee! No, of course I did not say that, how rude would that be? But in my mind I was thinking, ok, call it what you want, but that’s pimento cheese. Leave it to the yankees to steal our recipe, give it a new name and claim it as their own! I’m kidding of course y’all, but we southerners do hold this cheesy spread near and dear to our hearts. And since I certainly cannot pick up my favorite version at any local deli or lunch spot (missing yours like crazy Cafe IZ!) I’m sharing my favorite recipe with you:
- Grate one block each of white cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese. (I grate these on two different size graters for texture.)
- Add one jar of diced pimentos (drained)
- 1T worcestershire
- 1t cayenne pepper
- a bit of grated onion
- 1/4 t of garlic powder (to taste).
- Add mayo (enough to your liking – I don’t like very much at all)
- And if you like, some chopped jalapeno. I also add a spoonful of cream cheese when I have it on hand – makes it extra creamy and yummy!
*Like most good southern recipes, it’s not in exact amounts – just give it a taste while you are making it and you’ll know when it’s just right! And this really should be homemade but if you must buy it in the grocery store, the only prepared version I can recommend is Palmetto Cheese -it’s VERRRRRRY good!
Pimento cheese is great on celery, served with crackers or straight up as a sandwich (traditionally served on white bread.) My mom loves it grilled with a fresh tomato and as a kid I had it broiled in the oven on toast more mornings than I can remember.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Or if you already love it, tell me your favorite place to eat it – I’m heading south in a few weeks and plan to get my fill while I’m there!