Happy New Year everyone!
Other than eating too much, we had a wonderful holiday, but are now glad to be settled back down in Knoxville after lots of travel.
If you’ve ever visited my parents’ house in Kentucky, you’ll know that there’s always a big container of pimento cheese in the fridge. No matter what. And no matter how many times I say my lactose-intolerant self won’t take a bite, I always do, which is why I wanted to share this family favorite recipe with you all.
Pimento cheese has had an in-vogue moment again, at least here in Knoxville, along with deviled eggs, homemade pork rinds, and all kinds of other bad-for-you Southern food that trendy “locavore” restaurants here help eaters justify since the ingredients are easily sourced from nearby farms. I mean who can resist free-range deviled eggs with sriracha and homemade chowchow?
I’m glad Southerners are finding their groove and celebrating their food culture (even if it might give us all a heart attack). For one, it means that people are learning not to do sacreligious things, like pureeing one’s pimento cheese in the food processor, or God forbid, adding something sweet, like Miracle Whip, to it. Nevertheless, pimento cheese is one of those things you just don’t want to mess with. So, please don’t add jalapenos, or barrel-fermented organic pickles, or what have you to this. Just stick with the basics and keep it simple, simple, simple.
The trick here is to start with good ingredients, making sure to especially use good mayo (I always use Hellman’s) and good cheese (Cabot cheese is the best–I’m looking at you, Sara). My family always uses sharp white cheddar and roasted red peppers, which might sound kind of shishi, but fresh roasted peppers are a lot better than the little jars of pimentos that sit mouldering on the back shelf of your Piggly Wiggly (plus, you can’t even find pimentos usually up North or in Europe). The other trick is to absolutely not add too much mayo. The mayo should just barely bind everything together. Other than that, when serving it’s best with bland crackers. Saltines, water crackers, or Melba toast are all great options, but just make sure that your saltines aren’t fully salted, or the end product will be too much of a salt bomb.
Hope you enjoy!
The Best Pimento Cheese Ever
- 1 lb. or so sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 large roasted red pepper, diced
- 1/4 C. or so mayonnaise (Hellman’s or similar suggested)
- 1 Tb. grated yellow onion
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
Grate the cheddar cheese using the grater fitting on your food processor, or by hand. Grate the onion and add to cheese, making sure to include any juice. Sprinkle in the diced roasted red pepper. Gently fold in the mayonnaise a bit at a time, adding more or less, just until the mixture binds together. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Chill and serve with bland crackers or make sandwiches (tomato is nice on a sandwich with pimento cheese).
PS- Big thanks to Rita and Mom for teaching me this recipe…