Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese Recipe

There is nothing about me that is remotely Southern. I can’t name the capital of Virginia. I have no idea whether Lee or Grant led the Confederate troops into battle (although I do know who won the war). And for the life of me, I simply don’t get the concept of boiled peanuts. For years my only primer to Southern society and mores was Gone With the Wind. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I have, when in a mischievous mood, borrowed from Scarlett O’Hara, that great icon of Southern strength and frivolity, when entertaining. See, our house in Connecticut has four ridiculous columns in front. It looks more like an antebellum home from the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon Line than anything remotely in keeping with the neighborhood. When we’re expecting guests known for their resilient senses of humor and hearty constitutions, I don my big floppy gardening hat, sit primly on the front stairs, and prattle on in my best Southern accent to no one in particular, peppering it with plenty of “fiddle-dee-dee”s. Vivien Leigh won an Oscar for her flibbertigibbet ways. I’m usually awarded a chorus line of shaking heads and pitiful looks as everyone steps over me on their way inside.

So earlier this year when I visited Beth Price, our director of recipe testing, in Charleston, South Carolina (which, I later learned, is not the capital of the state) for an LC gathering, I was literally a galumphing Yankee in a Southern belle’s courtyard. In those four days, Beth did much to instruct me in the ways of the South. I learned when to say, “Bless her heart” (that is, when someone is, well, basically hopeless). I found out how to conduct myself at an oyster roast (with abandon in one hand and a linen napkin in the other). And I discovered pimento cheese.

I have no idea why, but I had always thought pimento cheese was some inbred cousin of the pimento loaf—a vile delicatessen concoction of forced meat studded with pimento-filled green olives—that my grandfather Costa used to make me eat for lunch. But no. Pimento cheese, I was thrilled to find out, is reason enough to pull up stakes and permanently move to Charleston. For those Northerners who are woefully unacquainted with its bewitching ways, pimento cheese is Cheddar cheese mixed with mayonnaise, chopped pimento, and, depending on where in the South you are, various other seasonings.

The pimento cheese I practically devoured all by myself at Beth’s was from a recipe by food writer Rebecca Lang. I contained myself on the evening of the big cocktail party, instead welcoming Leite’s Culinaria folks and fans. But the next morning, when I arrived on Beth’s doorstep hungry and a bit hung over, it was a whopping pimento-cheese sandwich that she thwapped into my hand. And I am absolutely not embarrassed to say that throughout the day, I outmuscled and outmaneuvered her skinny adolescent son in order to get the lion’s share of the two 1-pound containers of pimento cheese she had tucked in the back of her fridge.

So a few weeks ago when I had a “hankering” (See? I start thinking pimento cheese and my best Scarlett begins to take me over, body and soul), I thought, what a lovely thing it would make mounded high on Carr’s Table Water Crackers for the holidays. So I called Beth.

“Puddin’, can you tell me, does that pimento cheese of yours work at a formal affair?”

I could practically hear her eyes rolling on the other end. “Well, Fatty Daddy, I’m serving it at a black-tie affair. Does that count as formal?” Damn, if only Faulkner could’ve been so witty, I thought, I would’ve read more of him.

Tonight, The One and I will ring in 2014—a year that I’m sure will be one of the finest ever—with crab and lobster and yet another largish bowl of pimento cheese. And when I wake up on January 1, there’s no way I’m going to have Scarlett’s famous 17-inch waist—corset or no corset. But that’s okay. After all, tomorrow’s another day.

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Making Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

After having consumed half of Vermont’s supply of Cheddar cheese in the name of research, I’ve discovered that making this pimento cheese recipe a day ahead only improves the taste. The onion mellows, the pimentos perk up, the color blends, and everything becomes ambrosial. You can have pimento cheese on crackers, in sandwiches (think grilled cheese sandwiches or petite tea party bites), as part of a crudités platter, even right from the container at 2:00 a.m. as you lean against the sink. Not that I know anything about that.–David Leite

LC Mellow Yellow Cheddar Cheese Note

So when David makes pimento cheese, he’s sorta particular about things. He instructed us to share with you that he uses white Cheddar, not orange. He prefers the flavor of white. Besides, you’ll still get a lovely orange tint from the pimentos. Any questions?

Pimento Cheese Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • One 4-ounce jar pimentos, drained well
  • 2 tablespoons grated Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • 1. Grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater. [Editor’s Note: Between us, a food processor is the way to go. Five seconds max. David did it by hand just for old-timey’s sake.]
  • 2. Mix the grated cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, grated onion, and a few good grinds pepper in a medium bowl until blended. Resist the urge to dig in immediately. The pimento cheese is unspeakably better after it sits for a while in the fridge—say, 24 hours. (You can stash the pimento cheese in the fridge for up to 4 days, provided you can resist it that long.)
  • 3. To serve, decant the pimento cheese into your loveliest serving dish.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Although I divide my time between NYC and a little town in upstate NY, I lived in Atlanta for eight years in the ’70s when I became all too well acquainted with pimento cheese, although I don’t think I’ve ever had it made exclusively with white Cheddar, which I will be sure to try. Julia Reed discusses it in the epilogue to her hilarious and delicious Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties, where she quotes Scott Peacock as correctly pronouncing it “puhmenna cheese.” There is one brand of prepared pimento cheese that is (1) in every grocery store in Atlanta, and (2) pretty darn good, and when I found it in a supermarket in Williamstown, MA, I almost fainted and then took a picture of it with my iPhone to send to my Southern friends. It will not be as good as this recipe, I am sure, but if you want to know the name (this is not an advert), just holler. Happy New Year.

    • David Leite says:

      victoria@nycc, thanks for writing. (1) I just ordered Julia’s book. (2) Holler, girl! What’s the name of that prepared pimento cheese?

      • It is Palmetto Cheese from Pawley’s Island, SC “The Pimento Cheese with Soul.” It comes in Original and Jalapeño; both are good, but I go for the Original

        If you don’t know her (and maybe you do), Julia Reed will move to the top of your list of people you don’t know who you want to hang out with to eat good food!

        Happy New Year.

        Palmetto Cheese

        • David Leite says:

          Thanks, victoria2nycc. I saw this when I was in Charleston. I wonder if I can get it up here in CT or NY? Happy New Year to you, too!

          • Karen Depp says:

            go to their website and they will tell you where you can find it in your zip area. Walmart and Albertsons have it around here – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

            • David Leite says:

              Yes, ma’am…just checked. Stop & Shop is supposed to carry, but they don’t. Bummer.

              • Karen Depp says:

                Does that mean a Care Package should be in the works?Let’s see who is closest to you ….I am sure we can manage to get some to you somehow. BTW, how could Stop&Shop NOT have it? Maybe someone beat you to the shelf?

                • David Leite says:

                  I have no idea who is closest to me! I decided to order via Amazon. So, we’ll see.

                  • Karen Depp says:

                    Remember to take pictures for all the rest of us before you and The One devour the entire contents. I do hope you ordered more than one container! BTW, just another reason to make that reservation now, – we have Palmetto here and a good supply is on every shelf!

        • Erin says:

          Palmetto cheese is also available with green olives. You may only be able to get iit at their shop in Pawleys Island. I’ll check next time I’m in there, y’all :-)

  2. Traci B. says:

    As one who has lived her whole life in the South, I am glad we have another Pimento Cheese convert…Welcome, David!!!!

  3. melinda says:

    Richmond is not only the capital of VA and it was the capital of the confederacy too…..I know this cause I married a native Richmonder….Virginians have a hard time letting go of the past, but thankfully are moving toward being more “blue” politically, bless their hearts. Happy New Year to you & The One.

  4. Carla says:

    Being from the South, I grew up on this stuff. Do try it stuffed in celery sticks and on baked potatoes too!!!

  5. Of course you stocked up on Duke’s Mayonnaise while you were down south, didn’t you, Sugah?

    • David Leite says:

      Cynthia, now you’ve got me sweating more than a hooker in church. No, I didn’t. It was good old Hellman’s. But I shall rectify that in 2014 and buy some jars. Gotta be politically correct when it comes to pimento cheese.

    • Beth Price says:

      Dukes is the ONLY way to go, Cynthia!

  6. Laura Sullivan says:

    David, you might want to try putting some toasted pecans in your pimento cheese sometime. Also, I like mine with a kick so I add cayenne and sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco. Smoked paprika, dill, and garlic frequently enter the mix as well. My grandfather put chopped green olives in his and I do that on occasion but only when I know my husband won’t be around, as he loathes olives. Happy new year to you and yours!

    • David Leite says:

      I love your ideas, Laura. Especially the Tabasco sauce. And smoked paprika. Olives shall never join the party in my pimento cheese bowl. That smacks way too much of pimento loaf for my taste. (What is it with grandfathers and pimento-ed green olives, anyway?)

  7. LoAnn says:

    You HAVE to try making Pimento cheese with roasted red peppers instead! Even more addictive!

    • David Leite says:

      Hmm, I will. But Beth Price practically made me swear upon a stack of bibles that I would use pimentos. (Honestly, I had such an aversion I had no idea there was a difference. I had to flip through my Food Lover’s Companion to discover there is indeed a huge difference.)

  8. tfiglio says:

    Whoa. Too much mayo for just a pound of cheese. A spot of dry mustard. A dash of Tabasco.

  9. Cheree Cleghorn says:

    If I had to specify my last meal, it would be pimento cheese! Northern or Southern, it cures many ailments and puts many smiles on faces. Even better is a sandwich with honest real fresh tomatoes. Everyone should try this great stuff.

    • David Leite says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Cheree. Except my last meal would be whole-belly fried clams and lots of tartar sauce.

      • Sarah says:

        So sad and bothersome, and in reality grotesque, that you need to specify whole-belly for clams, anything else is just wrong! Also, folks might want to be made aware that their clam “strip” may not have any!

        • David Leite says:

          Amen, Sarah. Amen. Some folks (and I’m talking to my friends South of the Mason-Dixon Line, think clams strips are fried clams. They’re not! And…if you read my article about the fried clam trail in New England, you’ll discover than strips are really the sliced up “tongue” of the Atlantic surf clam. Blech.

  10. Pimento cheese is one of the best things about growing up Southern. Try a touch of cayenne pepper and a little of the pimento juice to loosen things up. My dad adds a shot of Worcestershire sauce. One of the best things ever is a pimento cheeseburger. Make sure to toast the bun or, even better, use a sandwich press so it gets a little squishy and the cheese starts to melt. And boiled peanuts are the bomb!

    • David Leite says:

      Abigail, I like your suggestions. And the cheese burger is da bomb. Boiled peanuts…[shakes head trying to understand].

      • ATNell says:

        Oh, David, boiled peanuts are good. Really Really Good. It’s like crack-cocaine for me. Especially when the water is seasoned with brown sugar, salt, and a little cayenne.

        • David Leite says:

          Okay, ATNell, Renee, our ed-in-chief, thinks I’m crazy. I guess I need to special order some. I might have to give the Lee Bros. a call.

          • melinda says:

            I suggest you try boiled peanuts too….I was very skeptical when I first encountered them, but now I am hooked……salty & wonderful

            • David Leite says:

              Do you have a source, Melinda?

              • Boil your own peanuts, it’s really easy. Just make sure to start with green raw peanuts (the best, but only in season around September/October) or dried raw peanuts (available year round). Boil them in lots of very salty water, about 1/2 cup salt to a gallon of water is a good starting point. Boil until they’re very soft. This will take between 1-4 hours for green peanuts, longer for dried. You can also use the slow cooker or pressure cooker. I’ve also had them spiced Chinese-style with star anise and chili pepper – very nice. And an Indian version where they shell the peanuts before cooking and spice them up with onion, tomato, mango and cilantro – that was wonderful. Do try it and get in touch with the legume side of the peanut.

                • David Leite says:

                  But my question, Abigail, aren’t they all mushy? That’s what I never liked.

                  • Tender, but not mushy. And if you make your own you can stop boiling them at the point at which you find them pleasing.

                    • David Leite says:

                      I gotta try this, Abigail. At least once.

                    • ATNell says:

                      Yes, tender and I would add “creamy.” A good boiled peanut reminds me in a wonderful way that it is indeed part of the bean family.

                    • David Leite says:

                      See, that could kill it for me. The texture. Arrggh. Gotta make it and see what I think.

                    • Vicki Ventura says:

                      David, as a transplant from CA to NW Florida, I was offered some boiled peanuts from a younger lady a few years back. Having never eaten them, I put a few in my mouth, then said “I believe someone’s already slobbered on these.” She asked where I was from, and she was NOT amused. I wasn’t, either. You either love these, or you don’t.

                    • David Leite says:

                      Vv, I think I may fall into your camp….

      • Beth Price says:

        Oh David, keep shaking your head. It leave more peanuts for me and Abigail and ATNell.

  11. Martha Jane in KS says:

    Frankly, my dear David, I don’t give a darn for peppers of any kind (or rather they don’t like me). But my TX aunt LOVES pimento cheese, so I will send her this recipe. And I may lose sleep tonight picturing you in your floppy hat sitting among the columns in CT. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
    ― Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind

    • David Leite says:

      Happy 2014 to you, too, Dottie. And damn it! I used the wrong GWTW quote. Yours is perfect!

  12. Amy says:

    If you are ever in Ann Arbor, Michigan you must try the pimento cheese at Zingerman’s. This stuff is unbelievable and at the Roadhouse they even make a mac and cheese with it.

  13. AnnaZed says:

    I am from New Orleans David and all I can say is that in Virginia they make it wrong! That’s way too much mayonnaise (I use only my own that I have made); closer to 1/3 cup would be better. Add chopped pecans if you like (or don’t) but always add Tabasco sauce!

    • David Leite says:

      I can see it happening, AnnaZed. The South will go to war with itself over pimento cheese. I surrender! South Carolina and Louisana, have at it! (Love the Tabasco sauce, though.)

  14. ATNell says:

    On “The Splendid Table,” Jan & Michael Stern found a place that–waitforit–made a pimento pizza. Yeah, baby, I’m all over that one since I’ve been make pimento grilled cheese for years now.

    I like my pimento cheese made with peppadew (blasphemy, I know, but I like it), scallions, and a little bit of Worcestershire.

    • David Leite says:

      ATNell, from the variations I see coming in for this recipe, something is always going to be blasphemy to someone. But…pizza! I am all over that, baby.

      • MLinkinhoker says:

        Probably the place you are talking about was the Henpeck Market in Franklin, TN. They sold it and someone else now owns it. I haven’t been there since the new owners took over but I’m not hearing the same great things about it. BUT the original owners have another place now, sort of a take out gourmet food market called Simply Living Life on the border of Brentwood and Franklin, TN. Their pimento cheese has just barely enough mayonnaise to hold it together and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper. They made cold sandwiches with it, grilled, grilled with tomatoes and/or bacon – and they are all heavenly. After the Sterns’ Roadfood Tour of Nashville aired, I went there, and everyone fell in love with it. They did share their recipe and it is out there on one of the Roadfood boards – just search for Henpeck and you should find it.

        To go along with our famous Nashville Hot Chicken, Hattie B’s (or their original restaurant – Bishop’s Meat ‘n Three) serve an absolutely heavenly pimento cheese mac and cheese.

        Pimento cheese made with pepper jack cheese and additional pimento peppers is great. Or use a smoked cheddar. For parties, make crostini with baguettes then top with a mound of pimento cheese flavor of your choice and broil until the pimento cheese starts to get bubbly and the slightest hint of brown. Top with a sliver of bacon, candied bacon, jalapeno pepper, candied jalapeno pepper–or whatever other garnish sounds good. It’s also good just served in a crock with any kind of cracker, pita chips, and vegetables especially celery sticks.

        Last but not least, a friend posted a picture of her and her grandmother eating homemade pimento cheese on an oatmeal cookie. Well, I had to try it so this past weekend I had both on hand so I tried it. First one I only put it on a little bit of the cookie and tried it. Wasn’t bad but I wasn’t sure. A little later I tried it again this time pretty much covered the whole cookie with it. Think I like it. So this leads me to a whole other avenue now – I am thinking ginger snaps or those thin Anna’s ginger cookies, the Rainforest types of crisps.

        • David Leite says:

          Um, MLinkinhoker, I’m gobsmacked. GOBSMACKED. All I can say is thanks. And I tried to link to as many places in your comment as possible.

  15. Melissa Maedgen says:

    Sometime you need to try a pimento cheese deviled egg. You just mix some of your favorite pimento cheese into your egg yolk/mayo/mustard mixture. It doesn’t take that much, and sends the eggs over the top and through the net.

  16. melinda says:

    for boiled peanuts, you have to get em fresh (dont think they’d ship well, and certainly not canned…ewww) they seem to be plentiful in SC, so a trip south is in order

  17. chowyunfood says:

    A TRUE fat man needs nothing more than a spoon, my friend.

  18. mfasy says:

    As a Southerner born and bred, welcome to the pimento cheese lover’s club. I have to agree with you on boiled peanuts. Also would add to my no list hoppin’ john. We always had black eye peas on New Year’s day but not with rice. We had it with pork roast, sauerkraut and lots of chopped green onions. Yum! 78 years later I have never missed black eye peas on NYD. Right now mine are soaking ready to be cooked tomorrow.

    Happy New Year

    • David Leite says:

      mfasy, thank you kindly, ma’am. We were supposed to have blacked-eyed peas this morning (a recipe from my cookbook), but a certain someone who shall remain nameless (The One) forgot to soak them last night. Arrrrrgh! Happy New Year to you, too!

  19. julia knox says:

    you could make your own boiled peanuts! you do know your way around a legume, and i suggest making a savory and a sweet batch. i too was a naysayer…til i had some good ones. (not purchased IN the gas station, but from the stand OUTSIDE OF, and maybe a few yards down the road from, the gas station. i’ve never made my own, which is part of why i’d love for you to figure it out and teach me how to do it right! :) i have made pimento cheese many times and as long as you have the cheese, pimentos/peppers, mayo and onion right (some swear by adding in some cream cheese, which is also good) you really can’t fail.

    • David Leite says:

      julia knox, I just may have to add the recipe to my 2014 mastery list of recipes. Let me think on it!

  20. Icechip says:

    Ain’t no Southerner ever turn his nose up at my pimento cheese which I make with my own roasted red peppers. I douse them with olive oil and sliced garlic and let rest for a day or so. Then chop, along with diced jalapenos and add to cheese with, of course, Duke’s mayo. I was born and bred in Brooklyn, but Duke’s has it all over Hellman’s. (PS-I love boiled peanuts, too.)

    • David Leite says:

      Icechip, where do you buy Duke’s in Brooklyn?

      • Icechip says:

        I live in NC now, sorry for the confusion.

      • Renee says:

        David, I’m late to this party, but I can answer the Duke’s question for you if no one else has. The company will ship. Four jars to a case and price includes shipping. I grew up with Duke’s, and nothing else comes close except homemade. I’ve ordered it direct from the company for years. (That, and Luzianne tea, but I can get that out here in the west now.)

        And I agree with whoever said that is quite a lot of mayo in the recipe. Half a cup would be plenty unless you want to go swimming in it…which actually sounds like a delicious idea. ;)

        • David Leite David Leite says:

          Thanks, Renee. I did order a jar of it. The One and are split. I liked Hellmann’s more. He liked Duke’s, which is weird because he’s been a huge Hellmann’s fans for decades. So now we switch hit when it comes to mayo.

          And I didn’t find the cheese was swimming in it. But then again, I never was a good swimmer!

          • Renee says:

            Would I lose my dollar if I were to bet that The One has the lesser sweet tooth of the two of you?

            My Other Half, who would choose pasta over dessert any day of the week, has never had anything good to say about any mayo, even homemade, but even he will accept Dukes in things like tuna or potato salad — although it took a Herculean effort on my part to even get him to taste it.

            If I can’t get my hands on Dukes, I will use Hellmans (Best out here), but I find I have to cut the sweet factor elsewhere in the dish.

            Ah, the power of suggestion. After reading all these comments, I had to make some last night. Pahmentah cheese on celery sticks, now there is the flavor of nostalgia.

  21. Why, David O’Hara, how ever did you live so long without “puh-MIN-uh” cheese?! Your recipe is sound, but I’d throw in another 1/4 cup of mayo. Maybe I’ll send you my recipe. Oh, and feel free to keep it in the fridge up to a week — can’t kill this stuff!

    • David Leite says:

      Oh, fiddle-dee-dee, Jean. Why don’t you just send me your recipe, and I’ll see if I can stiff another pound down The One’s gullet.

  22. lanaann says:

    i am so pleased, David, that you have discovered the pleasure that is Pimiento Cheese. I waxed rhapsodic about it once years ago on my own blog recounting my discovery as a young bride exiled to the Northeastern U.S. that not everyone knew of this particular delicacy. I find it endlessly amusing how something so humble that we Southerners have enjoyed all our lives has suddenly become a nationwide sensation. Why, I’ve been eating Pimiento Cheese since my Mama started me on solid foods ;-)

  23. I am so pleased, David, that you have discovered the pleasure that is Pimiento Cheese. I waxed rhapsodic about it once years ago on my own blog recounting my discovery as a young bride exiled to the Northeastern U.S. that not everyone knew of this particular delicacy. I find it endlessly amusing how something so humble that we Southerners have enjoyed all our lives has suddenly become a nationwide sensation. Why, I’ve been eating Pimiento Cheese since my Mama started me on solid foods ;-)

  24. David, thank you for your kind invitation to put my “puh-MIN-uh” cheese in a comment. Here it is:

    It calls for a third more mayonnaise than yours because I just reallyreallyreally like good mayonnaise, and it’s the particular combination of simple ingredients that makes my tastebuds sing!

  25. Karen Depp says:

    Oh FL, Bless Your Heart! and all the rest of y’all too.

    The only way to improve on any Pimento cheese effort is to add pickled jalapeños to the mix. Yes, pickled jalapeños! And whether you use styrofoam crackers or a great biscuit–you can never get enough of this stuff. Biscuits, corn bread, flour tortillas, ritz crackers, cocktail rye, fingers, spoons, or knives–any vehicle works. Champagne, prosecco (Sita, that was for YOU) or best–local icey cold (yes, in the middle of a snowstorm even) beer. What a feast! Happy 2014 Everyone. Now Y’all go get to the table!

    • David Leite says:

      Well, Karen, I believe that about says it all, don’t you think?!

      • Karen Depp says:

        Oh Sugar, we girls don’t “think” at all about stuff like this. Really. Just sit back and enjoy – and yes, those boiled peanuts are the best. Honey, we need to get you back down here so you can have some more good fun. If you don’t like them boiled, just throw a few salted ones in your Co-cola bottle, give it a shake, and you’re off to the races!

        • David Leite says:

          Now, tossing salted peanuts into my Co-Cola bottle is something I did as a kid. Now, tell me, girl, you got a spare room for The One and me?

          • Karen Depp says:

            Sugar Pie, I always have a place for you and The One! And biscuits, and pimento cheese, and grits and shrimp, and coconut cake, and gumbo, and red beans and rice, and some bubbly to go with it all! Make your reservation now!

  26. John Harding says:

    Bless your heart.

  27. Susan Gaffney-Evans says:

    Having grown up in the South, I adore Pimento Cheese. I even use it to make Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese – I have a major weakness for Mac & Cheese and consider it one of my top ten comfort foods. And I too use Duke’s Mayo and I add a touch of cayenne and a mix of sharp and extra sharp cheeses.

    • David Leite says:

      Darn you, Susan. I’m at my parents’ home in New England, and now I’m just aching for pimento cheese mac & cheese. Thank ya, very much, missy.

    • Vicki Ventura says:

      This DOES sound very good. Recipe??

      • Susan Gaffney-Evans says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t write anything down but as a general guideline, I make the usual mac & cheese base with a milk sauce thickened with a light roux. Instead of adding grated cheeses, I add an equal amount of homemade pimento cheese and an extra dash of cayenne or Siracha Sauce and bake it. Then top with crumbled, crisp bacon.

  28. Bloominanglophile says:

    I have some strong southern tendencies from my mother’s side of the family. When I was pregnant with my daughter in Las Vegas, I suddenly had the urge for a pimento cheese sandwich. Of course, being pregnant, that reads as: NEED. ONE. RIGHT. NOW! Luckily it only took 2 stores before I found a tub and soothed my dairy craving! You have inspired me to make some homemade–I shall share it with my daughter, who is now almost 13, and marvel how quickly time passes!

    • David Leite says:

      How wonderful, Bloominanglophile. And, hmmmm. I get that NEED. ONE. RIGHT. NOW. feeling all the time. And I know we gays are big on equality in everything; I certainly hope this doesn’t mean I’m preggers….

  29. Anne Lott says:

    So glad you discovered Pimento Cheese. It’s a staple for sure. As a personal slant on the wonderful stuff, I use Extra-Sharp Cheddar and I do not drain my pimentos. I think the tiny bit of liquid in the jar adds to the overall flavor. Plus, I love just a pinch of celery seed. I’m kinda known for my Pimento Cheese around my hometown, and I’m always happy to whip up a bowl for a special soiree or no reason at all. I even have an antique bowl that I’ve labeled my “Pimento Cheese” bowl.

    • David Leite says:

      Sounds wonderful, Anne. Do you use Duke’s, too?

      • Anne Lott says:

        No, I use Hellman’s. I live in Louisiana and Duke’s isn’t readily available. I think Hellman’s is just wonderful. Another thing I didn’t mention, chives. I like to add just a scattering of chopped chives from my little herb garden and then mix in. It’s a fresh green addition.

        • David Leite says:

          I use Hellman’s, too. Anne. I do have a jar of Duke’s in my Amazon cart. When I get enough items in there, I’ll pull the trigger and order. And chives sound great. I love chives, and we have tons in the garden.

        • Karen Depp says:

          Anne, I live in Louisiana too! And I use Hellman’s (or Best if I am in Utah!) unless I am feeling especially patriotic and then I use Blue Plate. OR – ta da – Tabasco Mayo which is really really good in Pimento Cheese.

          • Anne Lott says:

            Hello Karen! I’ve never used Tabasco Mayonnaise but on your recommendation I’m going to try it. I’m sitting here conjuring up several ways Tabasco Mayo would be terrific, such as Deviled Eggs! Thanks…

            • Karen Depp says:

              I am betting you will love it. And it is just perfect in egg salad. And on ham and cheese sandwiches. And tuna salad? Yes. Back to Pimenna cheese – a dash of Steens Cane Syrup vinegar does wonders for it!

  30. kitchenbeard says:

    The new boyfriend specifically asked me to make this to bring to a Christmas Eve White Trash party this year. Being a dyed in the wool Northeasterner (coughcoughNewJerseycoughcough), I had never made it before. So I looked up a few recipes and produced the requested cheese. As I was spooning it out of the food processor into the bowl the new boyfriend called and asked how it was going. My response was “Is it supposed to look like cat barf?” He didn’t reply for a very long second but then said “I’m sure it tastes fine.”

    • David Leite says:

      kitchenbeard, and…and did it? Taste fine, I mean?

      • kitchenbeard says:

        It was….. how do I put this…. unusual to my taste. I think I’d need to try it again but with more research and better ingredients than the stuff the BF got from Safeway. I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t supposed to look like cat hurl.

        • David Leite says:

          Ok, I’m going out on a bit of a pissy limb here — and remember, I’m terribly sensitive: Does mine look like cat hurl? I think not. Over mixing and over processing can grind the cheese into a near paste. Next time, mix all the ingredients together except the cheese. Then fold that mixture into the cheese. It will keep the integrity of the grate. (Damn, folks, I sound like a Southerner with a pimento axe to grind!)

          • kitchenbeard says:

            Yours looks considerably better than mine. CONSIDERABLY! I may actually have to ask the above referenced boyfriend to watch me make it. He was under the impression you could make a ball out of it and I told him I think he was confusing it with port wine cheese.

            • David Leite says:

              Completely. Port-wine cheese is ballified. Definitely not pimento cheese. Do try again, kitchenbeard, and report back.

          • Karen Depp says:

            Bless your collective hearts! Do you not see what is wrong with kitchenbeard’s pimento cheese (besides looking like a sick kitty’s best efforts) attempts? Well, listen close now darlin’s: do not EVER put anything connected with pimento cheese makings into a FOOD PROCESSOR! This is not processed cheese food we are talking about here! It is Pimenna Cheese. Use a lovely silver fork to gently blend the ingredients together. Honey, you don’t have to beat the Devil out of it. Just gently persuade it all to play nice together. Now, go back into the kitchen and calm yourselves down, and try it again. Pretty please.

            • David Leite says:

              Karen, can’t you shred the cheese in a food processor? I did the second time I made it.

              • Karen Depp says:

                Yes, Sweetie Pie, you can shred the cheese in the processor BUT don’t try to mix all the ingredients in it whether you use the blade (ouch) or plastic thingamajiggy. It just smashes and mashes and pulverizes the blazes out of it — makes it look sort of like…well, you know what.

  31. LenaB says:

    OK, this comment is waaay off course with all the previous comments & threads, and hopefully I won’t be condamned (spelled that way intentionally) for asking, but here goes. Any comments or experiences on subbing the mayo with greek yogurt? Say, if you’re out of mayo, or you have a darling child who can’t stand the thought or possibility of consuming mayo; or just wanting to reduce the fat of mayo or not consume uncooked eggs, and so on … Born & raised (mostly) in Virginia here, my mom always had pimento cheese around, but sadly she’s not around anymore for me to ask her if she made it or bought it already-made (but I do vaguely remember some store-bought small glass-shaped glass containers with metal pry-off lids of the stuff that she’d bring home from the grocery – is that a mirage?) Haven’t made it myself in my adulthood yet, but I’ve got some major hankerin’ goin’ on now.

    • David Leite says:

      LenaB, this is a “condamn-free” zone, so ask away. I can’t speak to your questions, as I’m a neophyte. Perhaps some of our testers and readers can jump in? Folks? And remember–“condamn-free” replies only.

      • David, I keep coming back to read the comments on this one! Though I would never “condamn” anyone, here’s what I consider the best pimento cheese (You kindly invited me to share my recipe before, but I never got around to it!):

        1 pound medium or sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
        1 4-ounce jar pimientos, drained and diced
        1 cup mayonnaise
        2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle
        2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
        1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
        1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

        But I’m always open to people making substitutions. After all, *I* am not going to be eating it! I’d like to ask LenaB exactly what mayonnaise she (or a darling child) has had that she doesn’t like. There’s a lot of bad mayonnaise out there. If she does try it with Greek yogurt, I’d love it if she’d contact me and let me know how she liked it.

        • David Leite says:

          Mighty kind of you, Jean. Thank you! Here you go, y’all.

        • LenaB says:

          Ahh, thank you, David. A little new here and was really getting a kick out of reading all this “pimenna” (or puh-menna) conversation. I was jus’ messin’ around about the ‘condamning’ – just a poke at how passionate folks can get about ‘their’ regional foods. Just like the insistence about ‘proper’ variations of different foods – BBQ, Chili, Pizza, Peanuts, etc.

          Until this conversation, I don’t think I realized that Pimento (pimiento?) cheese had mayo as a base ingredient – which makes me think my mom must have served the already-made stuff – sometimes transferred to a pretty little serving bowl for company & special occasions. Usually with those little Melba toast slices, or plain ‘ol saltines. I assumed it was a cream cheese/sour cream-mix type of base. I worked alongside her with all the regular meals she would make for the family, as I was always “in-training” for making her meals myself when she went to work outside the home. Although I remember her mixing up batches of lots of different things, I don’t recall her mixing up a batch of pimiento cheese.

          Jean, as for my non-mayo-eating child – it’s just any mayo – period. She just gets grossed out by it, as does one of my siblings – so I guess maybe it’s an occasional hereditary thing. I recently subbed greek yogurt for mayo in an artichoke-spinach dip for the non-mayo child & my other kids, and she not only appreciated it, but all of us liked it quite fine. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes with the greek yogurt – if I had any pimientos in my pantry I’d do it now, but first a trip to the grocery is in order.

          • LauraJean says:

            I have used Yogurt but usually mix it with some cream cheese-whole fat-non-flavored. Mix the two together b4 adding to make sure very creamy. Then I add Texas Pete and some cowboy jalapeno candy -stir into the extra sharp cheese = sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.Stir gently-put on some good home made bread and sprinkle some “real cayenne pepper on top” not the stuff from the grocery store. Toasting the bread can be good so it is almost crispy or children usually prefer it soft. Make sure you let the bread cool first.Great for pic nics with little fried chicken wings. Both easy to pack and carry. Add a cheer wine soft drink :) and a moon pie or or oatmeal cookie for desert. Great thing about PC is you can change it anyway you want-or use what u have-any peppers that you can(pickle) will work or you just love. For me has to be Dukes mayo if you use mayo-nothing else compares. Personal note: b4 my husband became my DH (Sicilian) he loved fishing and this is what i would make for our lunch. So easy to pop in a cooler and just tonight he ask if I had any left for a midnight snack.Have fun with the recipes-use what you have-pepper cheese for example is just as good. Just dont let it be runny and much better the day after than not. If you use yogurt let it drain a bit or use Greek style. and yes- Southern born and bred and when im gone ill be southern dead.

            • LenaB says:

              Hi LauraJean – you read my mind on mixing the greek yogurt w/cream cheese, though I was thinking along the lines of the reduced fat/Neufachtel (sp?) variety. Just curious, when you say “real cayenne pepper–not the stuff from the grocery store”–can you please elaborate on this? Not sure what this might be. I lovelovelove spicy, but maybe not in pimiento cheese for me, but always game for variations!

    • Karen Depp says:

      Hi LenaB,

      While I have never made “pimenna cheese” with greek yogurt, I say give it a try and see how you like it. Even after all our variations on the theme, I think the best pimento cheese is the one YOU like best. That is what is so great about it – we all love it no matter which version we create. And around here (Louisiana) I have friends who always add some vinegar and cream cheese to the mix of cheddar, pimento, and mayo. And guess what? It’s really really good that way too. So I would suspect that using Greek yogurt would be a good place to start and then add in whatever takes it to the next level for you and your family. Who knows, maybe even some boiled peanuts (that was for YOU, FL) would give it a certain zing!

      • LenaB says:

        Hi Karen – I hear ya on the cream cheese! I always assumed that was part of what made up the mix. And you’re right about food in general – you can make it what you like it to be! Thanks.

    • LenaB, not a mirage – the little glass jars were Kraft and they had several flavors, including pimento cheese. My parents used to buy them, even though my dad is famous for his pimento cheese. Go figure.

      • LenaB says:

        Thank you, Abigail, for confirming what I was thinking was my crazy imagination! I don’t believe I’ve seen those little jars in the stores in forever! And they made nice little juice glasses, too! That seemed like a cream-cheese type of spread, but it’s been a long time. I just know I liked it and I’m looking forward to mixing up some home-made stuff, now that I’ve learned a little more about it here.

  32. Oh, dear me. Pimento cheese is a weakness for me. If you leave a batch in front of me (a good batch, anyway), I’ll eat the whole damn thing. I wasn’t born here, but I’ve lived in the capitol of Virginia long enough to develop quite a hankering for it. In fact, my friend made a documentary about pimento cheese featuring some special guests, and the premiere was a blast (with lots of pimento cheese to eat!) Around here, we say “pimenna” cheese, and we put it on and in everything. And we use yellow cheddar that’s been hand grated with jarred pimentos and Duke’s mayonnaise. Best served on Ritz or on a sandwich made with cheap white bread. Wheat bread and pimento is blasphemy. Don’t ever do that.

    • David Leite says:

      Kristel, cannot wait to whip up a batch of pimenna cheese, sit back, and watch the documentary. Thanks for the link!

    • Debbie says:

      Loved the documentary! Several faces I recognized as well as the packaging of the commercial pimento cheese (Stan’s) that’s in my fridge as I type. I’m a North Carolina native who doesn’t recall a day without pimento cheese. It was probably given to me by my dad on a saltine cracker once I started cutting teeth! I grew up using it as a condiment on hamburgers & hot dogs. My favorite summertime sandwich is whole grain bread with a couple of large slices of a ripe German Johnson tomato slathered with pimento cheese—I’m salivating now!

      By the way, I’m a first time visitor by way of someone who commented on the Brown Eyed Baker blog. Loved reading all the pimento cheese comments–lots of people have definite opinions! Enjoyed reading them all!

    • AnnaZed says:

      Kristel, Thank you SO MUCH for posting a link to that absolutely charming little documentary. Someone on there even mentions boiled peanuts as extreme Southern food eating (which it is).

      Out here in Southern California this displaced New Orleanian makes Pimmena’ Cheese. Though the Pimentos are hard to find, and I have more than once been reduced to considering picking them out of a jar full of olives; though it hasn’t come to that yet thanks to the interwebs. This delicacy is usually initially greeted with blank uncomprehending stares. Mayonnaise and cheese, what? Though this is soon followed by ooows and ahhhs and sighs of contentment.

      The only other thing absolutely guaranteed to produce the same reaction (maybe even deeper incomprehension followed by bigger mouth reaction) is to produce a New Orleans debutant party Pickapeppa block. Extra points for those who know what that is!

      • Karen Depp says:

        AnnaZed, you are on!!! I have the Pickapeppa in my pantry and just did the block for New Years Day LSU watching! And I was in NOLA this morning for a meeting and lunch. How about Jezebel sauce????

        • AnnaZed says:

          Oh Karen, where ya’ at dawlin'; give this girl a pony!

          My Mom used to have a method for making the Pickapeppa block that involved having the cream cheese very cold and already in the dish then pouring some Pickapeppa over it, refrigerating it, then pouring some more, refrigerating again – 4 cycles maybe – so it would have a nice thick Pickapeppa coat. That stuff is to die for.

          I think Pickapeppa sauce needs to have a huge foodie love explosion and be loved and blogged about with praise and abandon by the food glitterati (like David for example!). The label with the parrot and the gold leaf is reason enough really. Basically it’s just a Tamarind catchup but amazingly complex. My parents lived in India before I was born and my mother claimed that in India they sell a similar sauce in a jar though I have never seen it. I am not sure that she is right though because the peppa’ component (if you will) has a distinctive Caribbean or even African vibe to me. Anyway, I could eat it spread on an old shoe.

          On the other hand maybe not; probably you are not old enough to remember this, but in the 1970s there was said to have been a fire in the legendary Pickapeppa plant in Shooters Hill, Jamaica; causing an alarming worldwide (or at least Garden District-wide) shortage, hoarding, skyrocketing prices and some say lady fisticuffs. We wouldn’t want that to happen again.

          A Jezebel sauce to me is an accompaniment to roast pork but my grandmother from Texas loved it on a Melba toast with cream cheese.

          What is the deal with Melba toast? I kind of hate it (it’s too hard!) by my mother’s generation (born in the 1920s) thought it so sophisticated.

          • Vicki Ventura says:

            I, too, didn’t care for Melba toast. Always saw it when I was still living at home in CA, but haven’t seen it in YEARS. Maybe it was considered diet food back then. Did it go away? I had not heard of the Pickapeppa sauce, or the Jezebel sauce. The only stuff I’ve seen on blocks of cream cheese were the pepper jelly (in Amish country), and one aunt always put cocktail sauce (with maybe some lemon juice) that she’d added shrimp or crabmeat to, and poured it on a block, and served Ritz crackers with it. I’d make that now, except for I’d eat the whole thing, myself, within 2 days!!

            • AnnaZed says:

              My Grandmother (the Texan) used to make that Shrimp Cocktail Spread thing; very 1950s as well wouldn’t you say? It’s petty great in my opinion, except on Melba Toast–which yes has fortunately fallen out of fashion.

              • David Leite says:

                AnnaZed, yes, trés 1050’s. And perhaps you can lead a one-woman revolution to revive Melba toast…?!

              • Vicki Ventura says:

                Anna, I didn’t realize the cocktail sauce on cream cheese had been around that long. I didn’t see it till about the ’70’s. The aunt who first made it was a Navy wife, though, so she may have picked it up in a different geographical area than our little Monterey Peninsula. Of course, we may have just lived sheltered lives there…among those who were more worldly. Before that it was always the celery stuffed with cream cheese, and sprinkled with paprika.

    • LenaB says:

      Just watched the film – thanks for sharing the link, Kristel! It confirms some of my memories & ideas of ‘what’s-in-it?’, or confusion thereof! I saw close versions of the little glass jars I remember, & saw & heard lots of familiar sights, twangs & recollections! Thanks, that was fun.

  33. Vicki Ventura says:

    I just watched the documentary. Very interesting, educating, and entertaining! Now I’m salivating for some pimenna!!

  34. Vicki Ventura says:

    Okay, this is the first time I’ve made it (I’ve eaten it several times), and I used the basics, but something’s missing. Apparently the store-bought and convenience store sandwiches (yes, don’t condamn me) were made with added sugar, or SOMEthing. I grated Cheddar, put in pimientos and juice, and added mayo and black pepper, and tasted. No. Added some Miracle Whip. Better, but still something missing. Will have to check the label at the grocery store. And what’s with the spelling…either or? I’ve always seen it as pimiento. Guess that’s just the Spanish spelling.

    • David Leite says:

      VV, so sorry you didn’t enjoy it. Miracle Whip is made with sugar, so it would be sweeter. Regarding pimiento vs. pimento, I found this charming article in the Oct. 22, 1935 “women’s pages” of The Spokesman-Review.

  35. Vicki Ventura says:

    I guess I like it somewhat sweet, is what I meant to say. I’m not really a Miracle Whip person…more a mayo person (except for deviled eggs, and then I have to do half-mayo and half Miracle Whip), but I used the Miracle Whip to see if that would give me the sweetness of the store bought version. Also, David, thanks for the article on pimiento vs. pimento. So, pimiento it is!

    • David Leite says:

      Vicki, sure thing. Although the article said the two versions of the word are often swapped. I don’t think you find many a Southerner pining for Pimiento Cheese!

    • AnnaZed says:

      Vicki, you need to add sweet pickle juice (and maybe a few of the sweet pickles themselves – or not) and that might achieve what you are looking for. I think of this as ‘Carolina Pimmena Cheese’. I had boarding school roommates from small town South Carolina and that’s how it was made in their kitchens.

  36. Vicki Ventura says:

    Thanks, AnnaZed, I will definitely give that a try!!

  37. Susan says:

    I have heard Southern Belles on various sites go on and on about pimento cheese for years. I’m not a fan of mayonnaise, which is what kept me from it all those years. I bought my first and only taste and it was not very good. I don’t remember the brand, but it was greasy and bland. I’ll try your recipe but might use sour cream instead of the mayo. I am sure it will work as I garnish leftover mac and cheese with it to moisten it and it works wonderfully. So..based on that, sour cream it will be. I’ll report back.

    • David Leite says:

      Hey, Susan. Let me know how it works out for you.

    • AnnaZed says:

      Susan, the sour cream is a known and perfectly acceptable variation. Though somehow it just does not achieve the ‘ah’ on the palate that the classic does; for the mayo-adverse it’s better than the yogurt thing. Add some pickle juice or something acid. (just a tiny bit) to tip the Ph though.

  38. maymay3160 says:

    Sugar Pie, aren’t you the sweetest thing to spread the word around about the delights of PC! The whole pimentos are more flavorful than the already-diced. Cut them up and add a bit of juice to your mix. A dab of Parmesan gives it a certain je ne sais quoi, but that’s a secret. Also, don’t ever use anything but homemade mayo as a binder.

    • David Leite says:

      Sweetie Love, just doing my Southernly duty–as a Northerner. You’re the first to say use homemade mayo. I thought that might have been trop haute.

  39. Dana says:

    As a current Alabamian, this is a staple at any tailgate (*roll tide*). My mom bases her recipe off the Southern Living one, but uses half regular cheddar and half extra sharp to give it a more balanced taste. She also adds a dash of worcestershire.

    Down here we always like keep a jar of pepper jelly next to it for a little extra thrill on gameday.

  40. I make pimento cheese at least once a month – love it! I add prepared horseradish for zing and some sweet pickle juice for sweetness. (Old recipe from my Grandmother) Never added onion…I’ll try that next time!

  41. Penny says:

    Duke’s mayo is the ONLY mayo allowed in my house and perfect for pimento cheese. I didn’t notice that anyone used eggs in their recipe. There was never a real “recipe” but my grandmother always chopped up boiled eggs in hers and used a generous helping of mayo. It’s kind of like a pimento cheese/egg salad combo. I eat it on celery and on fresh white bread…at room temperature. Everyone thinks I’m nuts but if you let it sit out about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat it’s much better than eating it ice cold. Just one opinion of a true southern girl and you know what they say about opinions!

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Penny, I’m not convinced yet about Duke’s Mayo. We did buy some but are on the fence. More taste tastes required. But…I do agree with the room-temp pimento cheese perspective. I think the flavors come out more when it’s warmer. (Colder foods require more salt and spices in order to be tasted.)

    • AnnaZed says:

      Yes, always at room temperature! In New Orleans one of the marks of a good hostess is pimena’ cheese nicely brought up to room temperature but not vile and obviously-left-out-for-hours at just the right time – it’s a challenge!

  42. Cleo says:

    I am currently living in Australia and I couldn’t find any pimento so I subbed some roasted red peppers for pimento and it was very good and satisfied that craving for home. I have always used Hellman’s sorry. I didn’t grow up with Duke’s. I like the tangy twist.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Cleo, no apologies necessary. I know some people do use red peppers in place of pimentos. And right now The One and I are in the middle of a taste-test challenge between Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Duke’s. We shall see who the victor is.

  43. Nonna says:

    Hello David!
    In the Philippines we call this cheese pimiento and the recipe I remember from childhood uses evaporated milk instead of mayo which makes it a bit more spreadable. Cheese pimiento is very popular both as a school snack and traditional fare at children’s birthday parties. No onions in the mix but some people use crushed pineapples (canned variety) for that bit of tang. For special occasions, we use Edam cheese (locally known as queso de bola) instead of cheddar for a richer, stronger taste. Thanks for this great post!

  44. Jane says:

    Thank you so much. This really took me back to my childhood in Texas. We had pimento cheese often and its still a favorite of mine. I loved hearing all these southern voices.

  45. Vicci says:

    The only thing missing with that pimento sandwich is a glass of sweet ice tea:)

  46. Lindsay Lempa Aldape says:

    I am thrilled to find this discussion on pimento cheese! I am a Chicago girl who fell in love with pimento cheese by way of Frank Stitt’s Southern Table Cookbook. The recipe is Miss Verba’s pimento cheese. I roast the peppers, and make homemade mayo, and it changed my world! A local bread baker makes a spicy cheddar bread that is an unreal match for pimento cheese, but it is good on anything. David, your blog is fantastic, I especially can’t wait to try your portuguese egg tart recipe. Thank you.

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