I may be the south’s foremost expert on pimento cheese. (Or is it pimiento cheese?)
Back in my newspapering days, I was assigned to write not one, not two, but three articles about this southern delicacy, for three different publications.
For a while, I joked that pimento cheese was my “beat.” There was a period of time when I regularly got calls at work asking if I was “that Kernersville cheese place” after I wrote about Musten & Crutchfield, a local manufacturer of pimento cheese. (Seems people confused my contact info at the end of the newspaper article with the manufacturer’s.)
Did you know that the pimento cheese is one of the most popular sandwich offerings at the Masters Tournament? (I did, because I wrote about it back in 1998. Alas, I didn’t get to go to the Masters this year, so I don’t know if the sandwiches are still $1.)
We southerners are passionate about our sandwich spread. We can wax poetic about cheese. pimentos and mayo sandwiched between two slices of white bread.
And no wonder. Pimento cheese is good.
Maybe not good for you. But delicious.
This week, I’m resurrecting my notes from all those long-ago articles about pimento cheese and sharing two pimento cheese recipes. One is my homemade version of southern-style pimento cheese, strongly influenced by my favorite store brand, Stan’s Pimento Cheese.
I had the chance to visit Stan’s manufacturing plant in Burlington for a magazine story on the company a few years back. They didn’t share their recipe with me, but I did pick up some pointers that I’ve used in formulating my own southern style pimento cheese recipe.
I also learned that my 6th grade boyfriend’s family owns Stan’s Pimento Cheese. If only things had worked out differently, if only our relationship had survived longer than two weeks, I might be pimento cheese royalty now. I think I would look stunning in a pimento-studded crown.
Enough with my silliness, let’s talk ingredients.
You only need three ingredients for true southern pimento cheese — shredded cheese, pimento peppers and mayonnaise.
(You can tell Paula Deen I said real women don’t use cream cheese in their pimento cheese!)
Everything else is just seasoning.
When I’m making southern style pimento cheese, I use shredded American cheese. It’s what the experts (Stan’s, Musten & Crutchfield and generations of country home cooks) use. And your mayonnaise has to be Duke’s. I’m pretty sure it says so in the Bible and the Constitution. You can look it up if you don’t believe me.
Mix in a little Texas Pete (also made in North Carolina), some salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika and you’re going to have a mighty tasty sandwich spread. It also makes a great dip, burger topping or toasted sandwich and it’s perfect atop a ripe homegrown tomato.
You can whip up a batch of homemade pimento cheese in no time. I recommend it on (homemade) white bread.
Check out my recipe below for Homemade Southern Style Pimento Cheese and be sure to come back tomorrow for a fancified version that uses three gourmet cheeses, homemade roasted peppers and some unexpected ingredients.
- 2 cups shredded American cheese
- 1/2 cups Duke's Mayonnaise (you can add more for a creamier texture)
- 2 Tablespoons diced pimento peppers
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon onion onion powder
- dash of Texas Pete hot sauce (or more, to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine shredded American cheese and mayonnaise until well blended and creamy.
- Add spices and mix well.
- Mix in Texas Pete hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on white bread or saltine crackers.