July 11, 2012

Pimento Cheese ~ A Southern Institution


Ahhh, pimento cheese ... one of those quintessential Southern treats.  Seriously, if you're not from or familiar with The South, let me just tell ya ~ pimento cheese (usually pronounced pi-men-u) is a Southern institution.  Like barbecue.  Sweet tea.  Cheerwine (which is a soda, by the way ... not a wine!).  Hushpuppies.  Peach cobbler.  Biscuits.  And so many other wonderful Southern specialties.

It's tough to go to pretty much any type of Southern gathering ... be they pot-lucks, church gatherings, bridal showers, or picnics ... without finding pimento cheese in some way, shape, or form.

Most typically, we find the classic pimento cheese sandwich.  Which is simply pimento cheese between two slices of bread.  Nothing fancy ... but sooooooo good.  But take the crusts off the bread and cut the sandwich into shapes, and now  you've got fancy! ... perfect and classic for tea sandwiches.  Or serve it with crackers.  Or in grilled cheese ... yum! ... with bacon ... even better.  Or on top of a burger.  Yup, these are just some of the ways we enjoy our pimento cheese.

It's also one of those things I had never even heard of until I moved South. 

When my brother's mother-in-law ... a true Southern lady ... asked me if I like pimento cheese, I had to admit that I had no earthly idea what she was talking about.  So ... I asked her to explain. 

She proceeded to explain that it was grated cheese mixed with mayonnaise, diced pimento, and seasonings.  Translation ... take some fat, mix it with more fat, add some pimento and seasonings.  Yup, you gotta love the South.  But hey - that fat with more fat is sure delicious!

One key point to making this classic treat ... please, oh please, us Southerners (even the transplanted ones) beg  you ... grate your own cheese!  Please don't dishonor a Southern institution with store-bought pre-shredded cheese ... it's got a coating on it that will all-kinds-of-mess-up the proper pimento cheese texture.
'Proper' home-grated cheese
It's traditional to use orange cheddar in pimento cheese ... but I do break with tradition here (I am transplanted to the South, remember?? ... so I do take certain liberties)  and use a combination of some orange and some white cheddar.  Go all-orange for truly classic pimento cheese.

So, if pimento cheese is new to you, are you curious?? 

If it's an ol'-standby for you, what's your favorite way to enjoy it?  I'd love to hear!  Mine's straight up on a cracker!

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Pimento Cheese
Source:  My Mom, as adapted from Southern Living  magazine


Ingredients
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese*
1 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese*
3 T. finely chopped pimento
1/2 c. mayonnaise
Dash of salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)


Directions
1.  Mix all ingredients together.  Add a touch more mayonnaise if it seems too stiff.  

2.  Refrigerate over night to let the flavors blend together.

*NOTE:  It's important to grate your own cheese from blocks for this.  I don't recommend using store-bought pre-shredded cheese as it won't produce the 'proper' pimento cheese texture.

Enjoy!


6 comments:

  1. I simply LOVE pimento cheese! I'll take mine anyway at all, but I've never made it myself! I need to sometime, because your recipe looks easy and good! Mmm, I like diced hot peppers in mine, too!
    Blessings,
    Leslie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am excited to see this recipe. Our church has an annual bazaar. An older lady always made homemade pimento cheese spread for sandwiches and it was one of the highlights of the bazaar for me. But she wouldn't share her recipe, and literally, she took it to her grave. When visiting our son in South Carolina last fall, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese and I've been wanting to try it back here in Kansas. Thanks for sharing one of your family favorites!

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  3. I was raised on pimiento cheese sandwiches. I can't remember a time without them. My parents always, always grated the cheese with a mouli grater. I bet some of you remember those. And, my daddy had to use Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp cheddar cheese.

    Now, you got me wanting one right now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This Yankee ♥ good pimiento and cheese on rye!

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  5. We would fry up a half pound of bacon really crispy and crumble that into the pimento cheese. Truly awesome on white bread.

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  6. Yapppppppppp its yummy...............thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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