Pimento Cheese: It's a Southern Thing
It's a Southern thing. I remember having pimento cheese as a child and, yes, it was the completely processed type, not the type mom made from scratch and I liked it. Orange and creamy with little red bits in it. It is not a food that has been a staple in my life by any means, as I have probably gone years without it, but every now and then I get a craving. I always enjoyed it when I have had it. I like it on crackers, on a sandwich with cucumber or as a treat in a grilled sandwich.
As I have decreased the processed foods in our house for the last several years I have not given in the the craving for pimento cheese. However, I recently got that craving again after having been out with some friends and they ordered an appetizer that included pimento cheese. Pimento cheese as an appetizer was new to me. Indeed I grew up in the South, but I do not recall having it as anything other than an alternative to peanut butter, tuna or deli meats for lunch.
Well, the appetizer was unique in that not only was the pimento cheese clearly not completely processed and might have even been fresh made, as I could make out the pieces of shredded cheese. This cheesy concoction was paired with guacamole and called Double Dip. Brilliant! Take a Southern staple and add an adored Mexican staple put them together on a tortilla and ta-da! Our food and our area have blended two cultural foods together. Love it!
So now the craving for pimento cheese was unleashed. Wanting to satisfy the craving, I began researching recipes. I kept finding recipes that included Dijon mustard and fresh garlic. I love garlic but my first attempt at homemade pimento cheese left me with a bitter bite of minced garlic, not the flavor I wanted. So I combined a couple of recipes and came up with something that very much resembles the flavor from the restaurant and the flavor of the pimento cheese I grew up with.
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 oz pimentos
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
6 drops hot sauce (Texas Pete)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place cream cheese in a glass bowl and allow to sit out until room temperature. This will make ease at mixing all ingredients. You can microwave cream cheese for about 10-15 seconds. The softer the cream cheese the easier to mix.
Cream cheese mixes best and blends to a creamy consistency if whipped with electric mixer for a few minutes.
Add shredded cheese to cream cheese and mix well.
Add pimentos to the cheese mixture. There is no need to drain, but do not allow too much liquid to mix with the cheeses.
Add all seasonings and mix to taste. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.
Note if using for sandwiches this makes approximately 4 to 6 servings. For appetizer or small bites it can feed more.
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