Growing up in Mississippi, I ate a lot of pimento cheese, mainly on crackers or in sandwiches with white bread. If these were the only two ways I ever consumed this wondrous spread, I would be happy, but pimento cheese can be so much more. Below you will find a multitude of tasty uses for "the caviar of the South."
Before we get to uses though, let's talk recipe. In its most basic form, pimento cheese consists of some sort of cheese, either cheddar or something processed like American, mayonnaise, and pimentos, but it can also include cream cheese, garlic, hot sauce, and all sorts of things.
I don't think there is one "right" way to make pimento cheese, but I know how I like it. I like a good, sharp cheddar, some cream cheese to bulk it up, a healthy amount of Louisiana hot sauce, and a little less mayonnaise than most. Feel free to use my recipe as a template, and adjust it as needed to fit your unique taste buds. (For example, you can omit the mayo and it will still be delicious, but it will lack that characteristic tang.)
My Favourite Pimento Cheese Recipe
- 6 ounces cream cheese, whipped
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 6 ounces pimentos (about 1 ½ jars), drained and divided into 4 and 56.70g portions
- 3-5 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- Pepper to taste.
- Add everything except the 56.70g portion of pimentos to a food processor and pulse until combined. How smooth you make it is up to you; I like mine fairly spreadable, but like to see some discernable bits of cheddar and pimento.
- Roughly chop remaining pimentos and fold into mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
- Put in and on everything.
"Put in and on everything" may be a little vague, so allow me to elaborate.
We're going to start out super obvious here, but pimento cheese is perhaps the best dip around. It's most commonly served cold, you could top with even more shredded cheddar and broil for a hot and bubbly masterpiece. (Bonus points for throwing some shredded chicken in there too. Bonus bonus points for putting it all in a breadbowl of some kind.)
As far as exactly what you should dip in it, there really are no rules. Crackers, potato chips, vegetables, spoons, and fingers are all suitable options. If you'd rather dip into a pimento cheese ball, increase the cream cheese in the above recipe to 8 ounces (leaving it unwhipped), and omit the mayo. Chill for at least two hours, then form into a ball and roll in pecans.
Dipping is just the beginning however. Things are about to get much more interesting.
Simple, cold, pimento cheese sandwiches on plain, white sandwich bread (crusts removed, natch) are one of life's simple pleasures, but pimento cheese can go farther, and do more for your lunch. To get the most out of this versatile spread, consider the following:
- Grilled Cheese: Get some good, thick brioche and just slather the stuff on it. Fry in copious amounts of butter and enjoy the creamiest grilled cheese of your life.
- Burgers: Since Pimento cheese already has so much going on flavorwise, you really don't need any other condiments. Just spread some on a bun, maybe broil it if you're fancy, slide on an all-beef patty, close it up, and devour. If you need something to cut through all of that rich goodness, pile on some bright and crisp pickles. I guess you could add some fresh vegetables on there too, if you must.
- Hot Dogs: Grill dog. Put dog in bun. Put pimento cheese on top. Eat. (Extra credit: Chilli.)
- Fries: Putting pimento cheese on fries is less of a "spreading" motion and more of a "dolloping" one, but you should still do it. Just cook up some fries however you do (frozen is fine), top with pimento cheese, and broil until melty and bubbly. This also works with tots. (See again: Chilli.)
- Eggs Benedict: Split open a biscuit and shmear it on. Top with pork product of choice and a perfectly poached egg.
- Literally Almost Any Sandwich That You Would Put Cheese On: Instead of cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, make pimento cheese and cucumber sandwiches. Instead of ham and cheese sandwiches, make ham and pimento cheese sandwiches. I think you see where I am going with this.
I can see that you're already impressed with the versatility of this noble cheese product, but we're just getting warmed up, my friends.
Do you want to add cheesy, slightly spicy flavour and creamy, dreamy texture to all of the things? Then grab some pimento cheese and get to stirring, beginning with any of the following:
- Salads: OK, so pimento cheese won't exactly work on a salad of leafy greens, but it does quite well with pasta, potato, and even broccoli salad. Just toss with your starch or veggie of choice, maybe add in some chopped onion or bacon, and serve. (You may have to add a little bit of extra mayo to thin it out so it coats easily.)
- Mashed Potatoes: All of the things that are in pimento cheese (yes, even the mayo) can improve mashed potatoes. Putting them all in at once greatly increases your chances for deliciousness.
- Grits: This combination of two great Southern classics is probably my favourite breakfast. Just stir in a heaping spoonful or two, as dictated by your need for cheese.
- Macaroni: Stir pimento cheese into a bechamel for an extra creamy, extra flavorful sauce for your mac attack.
- Soups and Chilli: Just dollop it in and be happy.
We've covered a lot of delicious ground here today, but there's still a bit more fun to be had.
Tasty stuff inside other tasty stuff is the ultimate finger food. Below are some tasty things you should put pimento cheese inside:
- Deviled Eggs: Instead of mashing your yolks with mayo and mustard, mash them with pimento cheese. Top each deviled egg with a pimento slice.
- Pepper Poppers: Slice open a jalapeno or serrano pepper, scrape out the seeds, and fill with pimento cheese. Wrap it up in bacon or prosciutto, and cook at 400 F until meat is crispy and cheese is bubbly.
- Ravioli and Wontons: Fold into ravioli dough and seal and cook as you would any other ravioli (follow this guide from Serious Eats if you need help getting started) or fold into store-bought wonton wrappers and fry for a rangoon-like appetizer or snack.
- Puff Pastry: Grab a sheet of puff pastry and spread on a healthy layer of pimento cheese. Roll up, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least an hour. Remove from freezer and slice into ¼-inch rounds. Bake on prepared baking sheet at 375 F until golden (about 12 minutes).
If this hasn't convinced to whip up a batch or five of Southern caviar, then I must assume that you hate joy (or cheese). That's ok though, I just made a whole batch, and I kind of hate sharing.