I realize I may be speaking to a small group of you with this post, and I can’t just say it’s a South v. North thing. Because my husband, born and raised in the Carolinas, had not eaten Pimento Cheese, nor did he even know what it was, until we started dating. He tried it for the first time, with my family, on the Wrightsville Beach sand, Fourth of July circa…2001? We even got it on video. That’s how shocked we were that he had never had it before.
(It should also be said that he thought it Pimentos were fish. Which, I suppose explains why he’d never wanted to try it before… tiny red fish pieces suspended in mayo and grated cheese does not sound particularly appetizing.)
I’m extremely picky about my Pimento Cheese. I believe it is only to be made with the sharpest of cheddars. So anything that reads ‘severely sharp’ or ‘razor sharp’ or ‘holy crap is this thing sharp’ cheddar are to be considered here. (I tell you my favorite (easy to find in every supermarket) brand in the recipe portion below.) It should never be made with anything less. It should not contain onions or herbs of any kind. No mustard. Also no olives (seriously?!). It should not be pureed or whipped. It should be spatula mixed and textured. I should see the shreds of cheese mixed in. And it should have a little kick to it.
Otherwise, you’re just eating Depressing Mayonnaise Cheese.
I grew up with Pimento Cheese as only a dip/spread… not as a sandwich. However…my oldest child loves a Pimento Cheese Sandwich in his lunchbox. So, whenever I make some for a party (fairly often, I suppose?), I always reserve some for his lunch the next day.
I think Pimento Cheese is simply perfect (and fun, and comforting, but also exciting) whether you dip some celery sticks into it, or bagel chips or pita chips or Triscuit crackers… or if you decide to spread it on a couple slices of soft bread and eat it as a sandwich. This photo below just so happens to be a Pimento Cheese Sandwich made using my homemade Whole Wheat Italian Boule, which is my swear by, hands down amazing, bread recipe for all things ripping and tearing and sandwiching.
It was also my son’s school lunch on that particular day.
It’s such a humble dish- Pimento Cheese. It doesn’t cost a lot to make. It’s easy. There’s barely anything to it. It’s like that one friend you can always turn to, who will always be there for you, no matter what. The friend you don’t have to get dressed up for, or clean your house for. That’s Pimento Cheese in the culinary world. It’s just… simple. And reliable.
But if you choose the right ingredients, it’ll sing. And trust me when I say the pipes on mine are stellar.
ABBEY’S PIMENTO CHEESE
- 8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded (I prefer white (sorry, y’all, but cheese ain’t naturally yeller) and swear by ‘Cabot Cheese – Seriously Sharp‘)
- 2 oz jar diced pimentos
- large, gloopy spoonful of mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s. Not Duke’s. I know, I know. My granny is rolling over as I type this.)
- spoonful of (full fat) plain yogurt
- spoonful of softened cream cheese
- cayenne pepper to taste (start with 1/4 tsp and add more as needed)
- fat pinch kosher salt
Basically, what I do is mix and then adjust if necessary… Usually I find that about an equal amount of mayo, yogurt, cream cheese, is perfect (a little larger amount of the mayo). Taste it as you mix and you’ll be a good judge. It should be creamy, tangy, and salty.
I don’t like my Pimento Cheese runny. I simply and completely do not. (Have I mentioned I don’t like mayo? That may be why….) But no- I like it stiff, but spreadable. So if you get to the end of making this and it’s just not what you prefer, then you just do you, baby.
Don’t forget that you can butter and toast that sucker up there for a Grilled Pimento Cheese when the weather starts turning! …Damn. That plus a bowl of Homemade Tomato Soup will cure just about anything.
Thanks for reading, y’all! I hope you have an extra sharp weekend. And if you don’t hear from me here in the next couple of days, it’s because I’m out of town on a writing assignment, so you can catch up with my dailies by following me on Instagram! I promise I’ll be there 😉