Homemade Pimento Cheese will stroke the palate and connote the sounds of the creaking chain of the front porch swing as it pendulums its way through a lovely and lazy summer afternoon. Ah, thought of ‘minter cheese causes me to wax poetic.
Given the choice of prime rib or a pimento cheese sandwich with a thick slice of tomato fresh off the vine, you can guess what I would pick! It ain’t the beef, honey chile!
Let there always be the courage to make it like Grandma did, without the “improvements” of the cream cheese, the food processor or preshredded cheddar cheese. I’m told it must be hand grated or the little shreds of cheese won’t incorporate properly. But sometimes I cheat anyway.
From potlucks to lunch pails, ‘menter cheese is the essence of everyday Southern life. But never, ever, buy that gloppy sweet stuff they sell in the supermarket. It’s an abomination and should be banned from the shelves.
‘Minter cheese was likely “invented” as cheap protein dish during the Great Depression. Its three key ingredients are cheese, pimentos, and mayonnaise. Typically, the cheese used is a sharp cheddar, but other cheeses may be used in place or in conjunction with cheddar. The pimentos may be canned and diced, or they may be fresh. And the mayonnaise – an important issue: You must use Duke’s brand. Duke’s has no added sugar and more egg yolks that give it a richness similar to homemade.
Sadly, ‘a menter cheese sammich is always better on cheap ole unhealthy white bread. Serve it up with some Zaps from New Orleans (if you can find them – thankfully, the Piggly Wiggly carries them) and step back because everyone will want to kiss the cook.
My basic recipe is below, but occasionally, if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll plop in a spoon of horseradish like my friend Linda Barton does. A touch of mustard is also good. Today I threw in a handful of pecans just to be different, but I like my old virgin recipe the best.
Yield: About 1 pint (serves 4 as an appetizer)
2 cups sharp orange cheddar, grated (8 oz.)
½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
½ cup pimiento peppers, drained and chopped (7-oz. jar)
¼ cup green onion, chopped (use both the green and the white parts)
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne
Dash of Tabasco
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir with a rubber spatula. Serve immediately with crackers, or cover, refrigerate, and let flavors marinate.
Who out there thinks they can beat this? Please tell me how.