Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pimento Cheese: My Latest Food Obsession

Pimento Cheese is an iconic food in the South. Most Southerners have idyllic childhood memories of eating Pimento Cheese Sandwiches on a hot summers day. This is one food that most people are passionate about, I've heard few negative comments about Pimento Cheese. My recent run in with the stuff at the Happy Tomato Cafe in Fernandina Beach has sparked my latest food obsession. Lucky for you, you don't have to live in the South to eat it, and it couldn't be easier to make. Ingredients:
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Mayonnaise (Dukes is THE only mayonnaise in my opinion!)
  • Jarred roasted peppers, chopped
  • Olives, chopped
  • Hot Sauce (Cholula rocks my world)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Mix it all together:

You have probably noticed that I don't give measurements. That is because you really don't need them. You can make this with any amount of cheese you have on hand, though you will probably want to use at least one 8 oz block to start with.

Put cheese in a mixing bowl and add a little bit of mayonnaise to bind. Stir, if it seems dry, just add a bit more.

Next I add the chopped pepper (pimento) and olives. For 8 oz cheese, I use about 1 whole pepper from a jar of roasted peppers. Adjust to your taste. This also goes for the amount of olives you use. I just use a few olives to enhance the flavor, but not overwhelm the taste of the cheese mixture.

Once the pimento and olives have been mixed in, add a few dashes of hot sauce and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Mix well.

At this point, some like to process the mixture in a food processor to blend into a smooth mixture and create more of a uniform taste. I like to keep mine rugged. The good thing about Pimento Cheese is that there really is no right or wrong way of making it, add or omit what suits your taste buds. I've seen many recipes that call for chopped dill pickles or absolutely no extra add ins at all. In true Southern fashion, just have fun with it and enjoy!

What to do with Pimento Cheese?

Pimento Cheese is traditionally used as a sandwich spread. In fact, the Pimento Cheese sandwich is the official food of the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Served with a little chopped sweet onion and some watercress, this is a sandwich even non-sandwich lovers can't resist. You could also use it as a dip for chips, or even top a steak with it.

A new favorite of ours is to have it on a pulled pork sandwich. You'll have to excuse the quality of my photos (or lack there of), my priority was getting to the main event of delighting my taste buds:

The next night we had it on a burger. That was divine! Seriously divine. My one tip would be to put the cheese on the top of the bun, then add lettuce, tomato, pickle, etc. so that the cheese does not come in direct contact with the burger. I put the cheese directly on the burger and the heat from the meat melted the cheese, causing most to run off. Yum, can't wait to try that again!

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