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Pimento Cheese

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Oh my lord, Jaymes. That sounds positively dreadful.

I hope one of you told him "Oh my. That's different."

Nothing so kind as that.

As I said, we all gathered happily and expectantly around the chafing dish, and dug in. It was like an episode of Twilight Zone where everything seems normal at first but then you notice that something is....well...just a little "off." We looked at one another like, "Is it just me, or......"? We really couldn't quite place the flavor because, it turns out, that when pimento cheese is heated, the flavor changes. Also, the cheese bits were chunky, not smooth like queso. Finally, somebody just blurted out, "What is this?" Chilton (the Yankee feller) said, "It's that cheese and peppers stuff you all like." I said, "Did you make it using some sort of new recipe because the Velveeta & RoTel didn't sound good enough?"

He said that no, he had bought a great big tub of it and then, as proof, retrieved said big tub from a nearby trashcan.

When we realized he had just bought the industrial size of pimento cheese and put that into the chafing dish, we pointed and hooted and howled at his expense, until tears were running down our cheeks.

Should add that he didn't find it anywhere nearly so hilarious as we did.


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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I'm guessing that pimento cheese is the Southern cousin to California's Pepper Jack - Monterey Jack with peppers finely diced and mixed in to the loaf. Most pepper jack I've had has been pretty insipid, with mild, almost flavorless peppers and weak, lowest-common-denominator Monterey Jack.

Pimento cheese is a spread...soft, creamy, not chewy in the least. Not a solid hunk of cheese like the typical pepperjack. It's usually not very spicy, though some folks have a heavy hand with the cayenne. The little flecks of red roasted peppers add no heat at all.

Yes, Shel. It's a cheese spread used on sandwiches, or crackers, or, that ubiquitous staple of Southern relish trays, pimento cheese spread into celery sticks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pimento_cheese

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6877304


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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There are as many recipes for pimento cheese as there are southern cooks, too. The way my family likes it may not be the way your family likes it, but they are similar enough that they will do in a pinch.

The same can be said of Ambrosia salads.

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A few of us make our own,  most of us buy our favorite at the store,  and some of us are

still toiling  with a recipe that will taste like our favorite store bought brand.

 

What is your favorite brand ?  Have you ever tried to make something that taste like it ?

 

Do you have a good recipe that you would post for Pimento Cheese ?

 

What type of bread do you spred it on ? Plain or Toasted ?

 

 

 

My favorite is that which Kroger sells under their own brand name in their Dairy Case.

They also offer it in a "lite" version,  but I like the full flavored.

 

I'm not so keen on Pimento Cheese spread which uses pickle relish or diced jalapeno peppers in it.

 

The recipe I'm using right now goes like this:

 

4 C shredded Sharp Chedar Cheese

 

2 C shredded Brick Cheese

 

4 oz Cream Cheese softened a bit in the microwave

 

3/4 C of Mayo or Salad Dressing

 

1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

 

1 tsp cayenne red pepper

 

1 4 oz jar diced Pimentos

 

 

Mix the cheese, onion powder, cayenne, and mayo together well with a mixer until mixed well but still chunky in texture.  Then add the Pimentos and mix as much again until somewhat more smooth.  You can add a little more mayo to get the thickness you desire or you could open another jar of Pimentos and begin adding and mixing until you have this cheese spread to suit you.

 

I've tried to cost this recipe out so that I can compare it to the store brand when it is on sale.  No need making it when you can buy it already made and cheaper. 

 

 

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HATE store bought.  Too mushy....no flavor.  Just no.

 

My tried and true recipe comes from a cookbook called Screen Doors And Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.

 

Ingredients include:  Homemade mayo, sage, lemon juice, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, freshly shredded Colby cheese, freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, pimientos, s and p, and a few dashes of hot pepper sauce.    Oh and some Worcestershire.

 

I need to make some now :)

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PIMENTO CHEESE

Adapted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill YIELDS: 2 cups

 

1 pound sharp yellow cheddar

1/4 pound cream cheese, softened

2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped (try microwave to loosen peel?)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ tsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste

½ tsp Worcester sauce, or to taste

 

Grate the cheddar in a food processor or on the small-holed side of a hand grater. Add the remaining ingredients and blend all together thoroughly. Refrigerate and serve chilled. The spread will keep for several days in the refrigerator. 

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It's interesting to see a recipe for pimento cheese that doesn't include pimientos! I thought that was de rigueur.

I'm afraid pimento cheese is a bit of Southern Culture that my mother never could sell to me. She adored that stuff that comes in the little Kraft jars with the metal lids. They made great jelly jars afterward, but given a choice between eating the original contents and buying jelly jars with my own money, I'd have sacrificed my allowance without a second thought. She didn't force the issue, bless her, because she figured it left more of a luxury item for her. She loved it in sandwiches, spread on Ritz crackers, or filling the hollow in celery stalks.

So, are y'all saying that there's a better version out there? Is this something I should try again? :-)

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Big question is do you mix it with a fork or with a food processor? Chunky or creamy?

 

I lean toward a finely mashed but slightly chunky, forked product.

 

Sharp white cheddar, chopped roasted red peppers, mayo, Worcestershire, horseradish (a little), Tabasco, s&p

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Fork mix for me.  Food processor breaks it down too much IMO.

 

Oh Smithy YES, try it again.  If only just for me :)  I like those little jars like your mom likes...but they are a whole different thing from good pimento cheese.  Don't use pre-shredded cheese.  Grate your own.  And, make the mayo yourself.  I bet you will love it.

 

I also remembered over night that I do like one store bought kind.  I ordered some from Zingerman's a long time ago that was pretty good.

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Interesting views on the subject.   I know in the South where Pimento Cheese is so popular that they insist on using "Blue Plate" brand Mayo.  In the South East they insist on Dukes. 

 

The Mayo can make a major difference in taste.  

 

As for fresh grating of the cheese vs purchasing grated in bags,  I don't know.  Some people like cakes that are whipped up with a spoon opposed to electric mixers.  Then it may just be the image of a Grandmother hand beating the batter that positions it in our minds this way.

 

I'm no stranger to making my own Mayo and started with using the Moosewood Cookbook's recipe for it.  Everyone needs to make Mayo for themselves and try using different types of oils so they will understand how the flavors change when using the same recipe.  

 

I like the idea of a bit of horseradish.  Also having a creamy medium with shreads of cheese and bits of pimento mixed through it.

As a kid I had an Aunt who made it with Velveeta and I thought it was good back then.  Haven't had it since.  

 

But I think Pimento Cheese is one of those things that our opinions are shaped with as kids.  Like Smores,  wieners roasted  over a campfire on a stick, and favorite flavors of Kool Aid etc.

 

One year I grew Pimentos in my garden instead of Bell Peppers.   The Pimentos are sweeter in my opinion and they aren't much

different than Red Bell Peppers when growing.    I've thought of trying the fire roasted Red Peppers as they would be much more economical than the Pimentos.

 

But I appreciate the sharing of views and information here.  And Smithy,  get yourself a little bit of Pimento Cheese from a number of Deli's along with a loaf of Rye & Pumpernickle bread.  Then try it with the different breads.  A pickle or some pepperoncini peppers will go good with it too. 

 

I go around various deli's buying minimum quantities of spreads and stuff just to try it.  Generally they give me a small sample to taste on a little plastic spoon.  If I like it well enough I buy a small quantity to take home and try to make something like it.  A lot of things we don't care much for in childhood somehow come back to be part of our adult life. 

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Oh ChefPip, I can't back down on the grating your own cheese thing.  I've made it with pre-grated.  Not near as good. IMO  :smile:   Fire roasted red peppers sound good!  Might have to try that!

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Shelby,  you pique my interest about fresh grated.  What do you imagine that it is about grating it yourself ?   

 

I'm fond of extra sharp cheddar cheese and try different labels frequently.  Yes, there is a big difference in flavor between each brand.  Getting a cheese with the right flavor may make the argument for shredding one's own.  If you did find the right cheese

then you may never find it available shredded in the bag. LOL

 

I wonder of some of these ingredients I see in the recipes aren't just compensating for what the cheese is lacking in flavor characteristics ?

 

Got any favorite brands of Extra Sharp  Shelby ?

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Well, this is not going to wow you much lol, but my favorite sharp--and the cheese I always use in pimento--is a brand called Best Choice that I buy at the Dillon's grocery store in the big city.  However, any sharp or extra sharp is better if you grate it yourself rather than buying pre grated.  It's just..... fresher, fluffier and better flavored IMO...

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Agreed. Pregrated cheese is never as sharp as the best crumbly stuff sold in blocks.

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Ok, when I find some Extra Sharp and some Mild that I really like the flavors of, then  my next batch will be fresh shredded and I'll

make my own Mayo too.  Everything from the ground up.

 

Then we'll see how it taste.  

 

Presently I favor more Extra Sharp and a smaller amount of Brick Cheese in the mix.  I could try it using mild cheddar in place of the

brick though.   

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Pre-grated cheese is never as good as grating your own, as pre-grated cheese tends to break down too much when you mix everything together. It's also usually dusted in starch or cellulose to keep it from clumping together in the bag. I shred sharp cheddar with the Cuisinart, then mix with mayo (Hellmann's, Dukes [if I'm back home], or homemade [if I'm feeling fancy]), pimentos, lemon juice, cayenne, S&P, and a dash of Lea & Perrins. The traditional way we eat it is on commercial white bread, plain or toasted. But it's really nice on a grilled crostini or a burger. It also makes a killer grilled cheese if you don't use too much mayo.

 

My favorite store bought brand is Stan's, but it's hard to find outside of the NC Piedmont. I also like Palmetto's jalapeno flavor, but they grate their cheese too finely and their mix isn't as creamy as I like it. At the end of the day, it's almost always cheaper and better to just make your own. It's not difficult.


Edited by btbyrd (log)

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I, too, grate my own cheese.  I don't love the waxy 'barrier' that I detect on pre-grated.  Some folks here will remember when our dear Racheld posted here.  Her 'pammina' cheese is the best I've ever tasted, and she makes it with pre-grated cheese, so go figure.  I've been lucky enough to have it made by her own hands and I've made it for many, many gatherings since then.  Here's the recipe - with her own unmatchable words:

 

Rachel's "Paminna" Cheese

2 c. pack of Kraft sharp, finely grated
One jar chopped pimento
Squirt of French's yellow mustard
A couple of shakes of Lea and Perrins
Big spoonful of Durkee's Sauce
A few big spoonsful of good mayonnaise
Several grinds of the pepper mill

Mix thoroughly in a large bowl and taste. Adjust ingredients to your taste.


IN RACHEL'S WORDS:
A Two-Cup pack of Kraft SHARP, finely grated
One jar of pimiento, buy chopped or whole---cut them as you see fit
Squirt of French's Yellow
Coupla glugs of Lea & Perrins
Big spoondig out of the cute little Durkee's Sauce jar
Good-sized clop of Mayo---Duke's or Blue Plate for the REAL experience, but Kraft's OK
Several good grinds of the Pepper Mill

Stir it all up in a medium-sized bowl, and taste a teensy bite. Adjust any and all quantities to suit yourself. A lot of L&P will make it kinda tan, but still delicious. This fits perfectly into one of the flat Glad-Boxes, and seems to benefit from the close confinement, sorta all soaking up everything else's good natures and making the whole thing WAY good. Like a close-knit Sunday School Class or maybe Group Therapy.

For the authentic experience, serve it with Premium saltines, or Ritz crackers.

Makes a KILLER grilled cheese, especially on Sourdough or rye. It's also SPLENDIFEROUS on those asparagus roll-up things that were so popular about twenty years ago. And spooned over a fresh-off-the-grill sirloin burger, enclosed inside a buttered-skillet-sizzled bun---the Bleu Cheese proponents have no idea. 


Edited by Kim Shook (log)
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Thank you for evoking Racheld, Kim...and thanks to the rest of you for the inspiring words. I'll give it another try, I promise...but not out of the jars... ;-)

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HATE store bought.  Too mushy....no flavor.  Just no.

 

My tried and true recipe comes from a cookbook called Screen Doors And Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.

 

Ingredients include:  Homemade mayo, sage, lemon juice, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, freshly shredded Colby cheese, freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, pimientos, s and p, and a few dashes of hot pepper sauce.    Oh and some Worcestershire.

 

I need to make some now :)

I too do a version of this recipe, and agree with everything else Shelby says below. I will post a version using red poblanos when I get to the computer...

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Kim, thank you for posting mama's recipe. I was coming here after work to do so , but you've beat me to it!. It is really good and so easy.

I do a version of it with a couple adjustments. I omit the mustard,and replace the L&P and fresh ground pepper with the McCormicks Worcestershire pepper. I know there are people who'd say nay, to preground pepper but it just works here. Takes between 1/2 and a tsp.and the 4oz.jar of pimentos are juice and all, do not drain. It makes a nice creamy spread and really accentuates the flavor.

Takes about 5 minutes or less to make.yields about a pint.

it's better if allowed to sit a few hours or overnight. The cheese absorbs the sauce and thickens a bit.

Edited to add: It's really good served with a nice pepper jelly, store bought or homemade!


Edited by caroled (log)
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I must confess to never having consciously eaten it. This article about the history of pimento cheese caught my eye at Serious Eats - makes for an interesting read in food culture and evolution http://seriouseats.com/2014/09/history-southern-food-pimento-cheese.html

 

Thanks for that article, heidih.  Interesting.

 

I myself have never eaten pimento cheese, that I can recall.  I confess I also don't feel an overwhelming urge to do so now either...

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When I started this thread, it was out of curiosity as I had looked all through the "Cooking"  category and didn't see any threads regarding pimento cheese.  I've always seen it as a ready,  go to food just like peanut butter and jelly for a fast snack to carry one through till dinner. A habit learned in childhood.

 

When I've looked at old magazines from the 1920's era at the Library,  the Cheese Sandwich appeared to be a standard lunch item in those times. So much so that some advertisements were

asking, "Are you still eating that same old cheese sandwich for lunch every day".  This may have been be due to J. L. Kraft  learning to produce a processed cheese which he could package in tin containers that shipped well and stored successfully.  it brought cheese into the mainstreem of the national diet after the military proved it's usefulness in WW1. 

 

My intrigue with this subject has grown to the point that I Googled,  "The Quest for the Best Pimento Cheese" and realized that I and others in this thread are not alone with our appetite for the concoction. Nor or we alone in seeking the ultimate recipe. Page after page in Google address this food item and offers numerous recipes.

 

Can anyone imagine seeing a "Pimento Cheese" cook off on TV ? Sponsored by Blue Plate or Duke ?

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I ate Pimento Cheese once, a couple of years ago, when I went to visit my daughter in Atlanta for the first time. Once was enough. I just don't think the combination of mayonnaise and cheese is in my DNA. Growing up, if cheese was in a sandwich we used mustard, not mayo. That article was interesting; and I always thought Pimento Cheese was a form of revenge exacted by the South on the rest of the country. Who knew it was originally a weapon invented elsewhere and that the South tried to improve it? Apologies, y'all!

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