Pimento Cheese

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I love pimento cheese, don't you?  Pimento cheese is one of those foods that holds a special place in my heart because I have eaten it all my life.  It's nostalgic.  It's also delicious, but there are imposters, so beware.  When my tastes started to mature a bit, however, I stopped eating it.  As a kid, my pimento cheese came from the grocery store, in tubs near the prepackaged coleslaw and chili, and were made by a company called Ruth's (sorry Ruth, no offense).  That kind of pimento cheese now tastes....what's the word?.....weird.  That's the best I can do to muster my vocabulary skills to find a fitting word.  It's mushy and has flavors that aren't found outside a chemistry lab.  While the nostalgic quality is there, the viable deliciousness is not. 

Thanks to my friend Jordana's mom (hi, Reggie!), I learned that not only can pimento cheese be homemade, but it's delicious!  If the chemical qualities of what is found in the grocery store isn't reason enough for you to try to make your own pimento cheese, maybe the unsurpassed deliciousness of homemade pimento cheese will entice you.  I started making it a couple years ago and have played with the recipe a little here and there.  That's the beauty of homemade anything; usually it's less expensive, healthier, and you can tweak it to yield the taste that suits you best.  Sticking in the cheddar cheese category usually yields the most original flavor, but play around with it.  We usually use white cheddar.  I personally like a milder taste, but Drew likes it made with extra sharp cheddar.  I have also tried subbing in some monterrey or pepper jack cheeses.  My mother-in-law likes spice, so she includes cayenne pepper in hers.  Pimento cheese makes frequent, regular appearances in the Givens household.  Have I also mentioned that it comes together in about 5 minutes? 

Here's a very basic recipe:

Pimento Cheese

8 oz cheese, grated
2 Tb. mayonaise
1/2 small (4 oz) jar diced pimentos
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the mayo, pimentos, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined.  Add in cheese and mix until everything is evenly mixed and incorporated. 

Cook's Notes
  • This is the very basic recipe I use.  It is simple and good!  I have tried a variation which includes adding minced onion, toasted chopped pecans, and worcestershire sauce.  While that variation tasted great and held more interest for our taste buds, it was more like a cheese ball and not true pimento cheese. 
  • This is actually a half-recipe from a Paula Deen cookbook.  If you hate having things like half jars of pimentos in your fridge, feel free to double the recipe.  While the posted amount is perfect for the two of us for about a week, you may need/want more. 
  • This stuff is great if you grill it in a sandwich.  Oh, words cannot do the experience justice. 
  • Since I experiment with everything, I would like to try some made with cream cheese as the storebought varieties usually have a creamier consistency than this yields.  Does anyone have a recipe that has proven successful?

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