Pate of the South: Pimento Cheese

For all of the emergency canapes in the world today, pimento cheese is a staple in the Practical Cook’s household, and a key punt ingredient.  Number one, it’s cheese, number two, it’s a dip, a spread, and a topping, and number three, it’s delicious.

Pimento Cheese in Its Natural Setting, Atop Celery

Pimento Cheese in Its Natural Setting, Atop Celery

There are many fine commercial renditions available, from the Whole Foods high-end to the Velveeta and Duke’s mayo for the purists, with and without jalepeños, and even made with pepperjack. For the non-Southerners here, it’s pronounced without any real hard consonants, all run together: pimenacheese.

But wait, do you hate mayo? This is a common issue, and though I would question how you survive tomato season (do you butter those tomato sandwiches?), the recipe that follows is more cheese spread than mayo-fest.

Pate of the South: Pimento Cheese Recipe

Adapted from Louis Osteen’s  Charleston Cuisine, best made with Tillam0ok or similarly sharp cheddar

1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grated sweet onion
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 ounces whole peeled pimentos, drained and quartered
freshly cracked pepper to taste

1. Mix everything but pimentos together by hand—blend well, but don’t overmix.

2. Add the pimentos and stir until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings according to preference.

3. Store in the fridge overnight so flavors meld. Let it warm up before serving for full flavor.

**Tips: This recipe doubles and quadruples well. It’s a great hostess gift, packed in a small jam jar or ramekin. Because this recipe relies on cream cheese instead of mayo, it is more akin to “pub cheese” or a cheese ball in texture. It makes a phenomenal topping for bagels, if you like fusion cuisine.

Pimento Cheese Party Plate

Pimento Cheese Party Plate

5 Quick Ideas for Pimento Cheese Application

  • Grilled pimento cheese sandwich with tomato, bacon, and baby spinach
  • On a toasted baguette round as a fancy canape
  • Spread on celery, a classic for a reason
  • In a whole wheat tortilla with romaine or iceberg lettuce, cut into 1 inch pieces, Southern Sushi
  • Top a tomato with it

Or perhaps my sentimental favorite, spread thick on the squishiest, whitest bread the grocery store has to offer, in the dead of night, when no one is looking (this works best with the more mayonnaisey varietals). Some childhood habits die hard, and I’m not going to kill this one without a good reason.

This concludes another week of Practical Cooking. Join us tomorrow for Weekly Menus.

Until then, do you have a favorite Pimento Cheese recipe? Send it in, the Practical Cook test kitchen is open: practical cook at gmail dot com

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