Monday, April 6, 2009

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is one of those foods that immediately sparks the memory of summer trips to Kentucky. You can't go to a church dinner, luncheon, or funeral in Kentucky without there being a tray of little triangle sandwiches made with pimento cheese and benedictine (the benedictine is a whole other story for a later time). My greatest memories of pimento cheese is eating it upon arrival to my grandparents' house. It was a guaranteed bet my grandmother would have some ready to eat once we arrived, always stored in an old mayo jar.

There are competing versions in my dad thinks it is best soupy with pickles, but my favorite is of course my grandmother's version that is a thick spread and pickle free. I never did make pimento cheese with my grandmother to know her secrets, but I discovered a couple years ago that my Aunt Edna and Uncle Harold's version is pretty much the same. Thank goodness I have them around to ask for recipes!!

You may make pimento cheese with any cheese you like, but the most common is cheddar cheese and maybe some American for texture. My Aunt Edna says they normally use scraps of cheese they have leftover, but my husband is a cheese freak so we don't normally have any leftovers. Since I am a more mild person, I decided to combine sharp and mild cheddar for mine, but you do as you wish! I also took advantage of using the pre-shredded cheese packages, but I'm sure my grandmother would never have adapted to such an invention. :)

If you are a golf fan, here is my recommendation for the perfect golf watching meal: Make a pimento cheese sandwich and wrap it in green wax paper. Take a seat on the couch and enjoy your sandwich along with an Arnold Palmer, and you will feel like you are at Augusta National on Master's Sunday.

Pimento Cheese

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups mild cheddar cheese, grated
Small jar of diced pimentos
Mayonnaise (it is best with the real mayo, but you can use light or fat free if you want)
Salt and pepper

1. Combine the two cheeses in a mixing bowl
2. Add the pimentos along with some of the juice (depending on my pepper mood, I may just use half of the jar and freeze the rest)
3. Mix in some mayo, start with a spoonful or two at a time, and mix until the the cheeses become spreadable
4. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and then refrigerate

This is best if it has time to refrigerate so the flavors will combine, so may a day ahead if time permits. Serve as cold sandwiches (or it makes a fabulous grilled cheese), on saltine crackers (my favorite), celery, or whatever your favorite dipping item may be.

FYI - if you don't have the desire to make your own but still want to try it...go to the Fresh Market if there is one nearby and taste theirs. It is creamier than mine but I really like it.

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