Comfort food comes in different flavors and from different cultures; many tied to childhood memories when our moms and grandmas would fix something special to make us feel special. In The South, where I have been for more than a year now (and where I spent most of my childhood), pimento cheese is one of those comfort foods. It ranks right up there with fried chicken, meatloaf and mac n cheese.
In her “Pimento Cheese: The Cookbook”, Perre Coleman refers to pimento cheese as “The Pate of the South”. I can’t remember any picnic, church pot luck or fried chicken dinner that didn’t include pimento cheese sandwiches… usually served on the ubiquitous Wonder Bread. My Gramma Lillie Mae and my mom, both world-class Southern Cooks, guarded their pimento cheese recipes as though they were guarding the Holy Grail… a not-so-uncommon practice in The South. Every Southern Cook, and I mean every Southern Cook, thinks her (or his) recipe is “the one”. It hasn’t been that many years ago that my mom finally shared many of her secrets from the kitchen with me… including her recipe for… pimento cheese.
After falling down the cheese hole, I began several cheese journeys which included one to create the “perfect mac n cheese” and another to create the “perfect pimento cheese”… and lucky for me, I soon discovered that with the use of the best ingredients, every mac n cheese and every pimento cheese has the potential to become the “perfect one”…
My mom lives more than fifty miles from the nearest Cut and Wrap Cheese Shop, but there is an Ingles in Hartwell
which is only about fifteen miles away. While all their cheese selections are pre-wrapped, the selection is quite respectable and carries many Award-Winning American cheeses, including a few “small-batch, artisan” choices. After returning from our vacation in Hawaii last month, The Man and I made a run to Hartwell to stock up and I brought home plenty of cheese…
This week, it was time for pimento cheese, a spread that can last in the fridge for up-to-a-month… or so I’ve been told… never lasts that long around The Manse… I decided to combine two of the packages of Cabot Co-op Cheddars: Vermont Sharp Cheddar and their Seriously Sharp Cheddar. It’s another “perfect one” that won’t last anywhere near a month around here…trust me when I say…The Man Swooned… even my mom pronounced it a success… despite the fact that she didn’t make it…
Here’s what I did:
1 Large jar Diced and Chopped Pimento, with brine (about 5 ounces)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Duke’s Mayonnaise**… in The South it must be Duke’s (my mom likes it creamier so I went with the larger amount)
1 – 8 ounce package Cabot’s Vermont Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 – 8 ounce package Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
Blend pimento, with brine, and mayo in a blender or food processor.
Add salt and pepper to mixture and blend a bit more.
Add the cheeses, a little at a time until well-blended.
If you like it chunkier, toss the cheese in a big bowl and add the blended pimento/mayo mixture and hand-mix until well mixed.
Mom likes it creamy, so I blend… when in the PNW with just The Man and me, I do it both ways, depending on my lazy level that day…
Please check out some of my other Pimento Cheese Recipes.
Interviews with Cheese Professionals will resume next week… my thanks to everyone for their patience in awaiting the posting of their interviews… as many of you know, this has not been my “favorite year”…
Interviews will continue throughout 2015… sometimes, they will be “stand-alone” and sometimes they will be presented as round-table discussions with several Cheese Professionals answering the same question. Those participating include Cheesemakers, ACS CCPs™,Cheesemongers and Cheese Professionals and Experts who contribute to this Wonderful World we call “Cheese”.
List of 2015 Cheese Professionals.
List of all Cheese Professionals Bios.
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**Editorial Comment… Duke’s is still 32 ounces… not 30… manufacturers don’t think we’ve noticed how the weight has decreased to try to disguise the increase in price… remember when a tub of ice cream was a half-gallon or a container of yogurt was 8 ounces (and then 6 ounces… and now 5.3 ounces)??? So annoying…