Pimento Cheese

Every so often I get a taste of something that captivates my taste buds beyond redemption. Infatuation. Obsession. All-consuming passion. This weekend, I fell under the spell of pimento cheese. I was served a pimento cheese appetizer with house-made bread and butter pickles at a rehearsal dinner on Friday night and ate not only my portion, but Husband’s, and quite possible my tablemates’ as well. 

I thought I was pretty sneaky, grabbing a bit here off of Husband’s plate as he carried on normal conversation. But I was quickly noticed, and the table was made aware of my…pining. Public shaming over appetizers at a rehearsal dinner. New low? 

I’ve had pimento cheese on plenty of occasions, but the flavor hit me just so this time and I suddenly couldn’t think of anything else I’ve ever cared about other than salty, smooth, rich pimento. 

After returning home on Sunday, I started jotting down notes for me to use when developing my own perfect pimento cheese. Re-reading my handwritten notes (which include rhetorical (?) questions like Jalapeno?? WHAT? Mustard?!“), I have to admit that I’ve sounded like less of a crazy person. The finished product, pictured below, was so very worth the effort:

Good pimento cheese relies on the perfect balance of spice and cheese. The heat in this recipe was achieved with the most finely-minced jalapeno bits I’ve ever produced, plus cayenne pepper and hot sauce. Pro tip: always, always grate your cheddar off the block for pimento – don’t buy shredded cheese. It just doesn’t mix properly. 

Pimento cheese serving ideas:
  • Spread pimento on white bread and top with thick tomato slices and hot bacon for a sandwich.
  • Replace all or some of the cheese called for in macaroni and cheese or potatoes au gratin with pimento. 
  • Serve as a spread with crudites (celery, mini bell pepper, carrot sticks, radishes, etc.). 
  • Use in a hot dip with spicy Rotel tomatoes and ground beef. Bake until bubbling hot and serve with tortilla chips. 
  • Grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. 
  • Spread generously on top of a burger. 
Any bets on how long it will be before I eat myself sick and never, ever want to see pimento cheese again? 
Pimento Cheese
Yields ~1 1/2 cups

You will need:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons pimentos
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped 
  • Dash hot sauce (to taste, optional)

Method:
  • Combine cream cheese, grated sharp cheddar, and mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl on medium speed until the consistency is even. Add spices and continue to mix. 
  • Finely chop pimentos and add to the bowl. 
  • Remove the seeds of the jalapeno and finely mince, then stir into the cream cheese mixture. 
  • Add lemon juice and hot sauce (if using) and mix for a couple more minutes, until the consistency is even and the pimentos have broken down somewhat (the mixture will be slightly orange). 
  • Scatter toasted nuts on top of the pimento cheese immediately prior to serving. 
  • The dish can be stored in the refrigerator for two months in an airtight container. 

Source: Blog

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