Back in Virginia pimiento cheese was standard fare, especially at my house. More often than not occupying a spot on the shelf in the fridge between Mrs. Marshall’s potato salad, Dad’s egg salad and, well, the mayonnaise. I don’t actually remember Mom or Dad making it, although one or the other did. While this was a place and time where pimiento cheese roamed freely in the dairy section at most markets, I had none of that. Why, you ask? Lucky me, I had only to open the refrigerator and voila! there was pure pimiento ambrosia to be enjoyed most often on soft, white sandwich bread sometimes garnished with a few slices of Hanover tomatoes. But also very tasty on crackers or perhaps smushed into a celery stalk (very Southern). Me, I go for the sandwich, crusts and all.
The recipe for most pimiento cheese consists of mixing just six or so ingredients. Typically, it includes sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos (not pimentos, mind you) and some simple seasoning such as salt & pepper. Common variations on the recipe include the addition of onion (or a shallot), cream cheese, garlic, bacon, jalapeños, or a variation of cheese types. Some use blenders (bad) and others use hand graters and forks (good). The recipe I will share with you here is my Mom’s. It is not to be altered or trifled with. Don’t get fancy. Don’t you dare. Don’t even consider it.
Ah, my Moms. About a year ago when she visited, there also happened to be a pile of other folks crashing at my house. To my mom’s delight she had a whole new world of people to feed. “But Kathy, what is this PIMIENTO CHEESE you speak of?", they asked. “It sounds kind of gross.” I guess compared to the Scottish eggs, lavender cupcakes and homemade loaves of bread (good for said sandwiches, fyi) mom had prepared, the gooey, orangey “cheese” with red things in it may have seemed less appealing. Well, let me just say that the pimiento cheese lasted about 10 minutes, with requests for the recipe (read - make more, please, Kathy).
About 6 months ago my dear mother moved here to the city of angels and among other fun food adventures, we recently returned to the ole pimiento cheese. I have to say, nary a soul tasting this magnificent, Southern concoction has been disappointed. Rather, I dare say, overwhelmingly surprised and titillated by the experience. It’s a perfect snackulation on a hot, summer afternoon (now).
And here we go…
Mom’s Pimiento Cheese
Let’s start with the rules:
NOT ALLOWED: food processors, pre-packaged grated cheese, grating cheese too finely or grating too coarsely
ABSOLUTES: Duke's mayonnaise, stirring mixture with a fork, the right consistency
Ingredients: 1 block of sharp & medium cheddar (yellow)
1 small jar of pimientos & pimiento juice
1/8 medium onion (Vidalia preferred if available) minced very, very finely
a couple of generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce
about 6 tablespoons (don't be afraid) of Duke's mayonnaise
In a mixing bowl: Grate the cheese on the smaller grates (not the tinies, though) and add the mayo and onion. Mix together vigorously with a fork until everything is “married”. Add the pimientos and continue to mix. Add pimiento juice and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Now spread it on a cracker, a stalk of celery or make a bad ass sandwich to enjoy!
Don't you forget to share with your friends and/or neighbors like a good Southerner would...
“You think I don’t have culture just because I’m from down in Georgia. Believe me, we’ve got culture there. We’ve always had sushi. We just called it bait.” -- Ben "Cooter" Jones