If you're a died-in-the-wool citizen of fly-over country, like me, your only exposure to Pimento Cheese was likely the kind made by Kraft that came in the little glass container that later became a juice glass. No one I know actually bought the stuff, opting instead for regular old Cheez Whiz, or maybe Old English on a very special occasion. (And of course, most of it was used to stuff celery.) Anything that had red pepper looking things in it was obviously considered entirely too 'picy by our Norwegian forefathers and foremothers. And as far as pimentos went, those were the things in the olives. So, PC remained a mystery.
Well, I'm here to tell you that this stuff can change your life. And, as a bonus, it's easier than hell to make. There is really no reason not to have some on hand.
Here's the basic formula:
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese- fancy or the store brand, just get sharp or extra sharp
- 2 ounces softened cream cheese. Buy the brick of the stuff, not that spreadable crap in the container. Just cut it when it's cold and then let it soften. And for God's sake, don't buy the "lite" variety, it's just got more sugar in it
- 2 TB good mayonnaise. Life is way to short for cheap-ass mayo.
- 1 TB finely chopped onion
- 1 4 ounce jar of pimentos. They are by the pickles and olives and stuff, get the sliced or chopped variety.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Just use it. It's not that 'picy. Again, life is short, so live a little.
- Some grinds of good black pepper. Maybe a 1/4 tsp. Like the mayo, life is too short for that pepper dust out of a can. Buy a mill and some good peppercorns.
- Grate that cheddar cheese and toss it in a mixing bowl along with the cream cheese, mayo, and onion.
- Give those pimentos a little bit of a drain and dump those in, too.
- Add the salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
- Stir the hell out of it. It needs to look more or less like cheese spread, because, well, it is cheese spread.
You can also increase the heat level to a delightful warmish by cutting the cheddar back to roughly 8 ounces and then using about 2 ounces of pepper jack. Finely dice a fresh jalapeno and put that in there, too. Everything else stays the same.
What is this stuff good for? Everything. No kidding, everything. Here are a few ideas:
- Spread it on crackers and enjoy it with a crisp white wine.
- Make sandwiches with it on white bread. Cut the crusts off and wrap the sandwiches in green plastic. Eat them while wearing a green jacket and pretend you just won The Masters.
- Use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Or, my personal favorite, slather it all over burgers fresh off the grill. This is so much tastier than trying to get cheese to melt for a good cheeseburger. And what's more 'Merican than a good cheeseburger all slathered up with tasty, gooey cheese? Exactly!