Pimiento cheese, stack apple cake, mini chocolate chess pies, apple hand pies, fried okra, BBQ (aka pulled pork), hot chicken, and sorghum and butter spread over a hot buttermilk biscuit. These are all foods I never heard of until I moved to the South. Now I adore them.
Most of these Southern delicacies, like the stack apple cake, don’t show up on the table often, but when they do, I’m all in. Even though I have been given recipe cards for all these foods, I have to admit; I’m not comfortable preparing them and tend to step aside and let the Southerners in the room make them. That’s about to change now that I started regularly making food writer, Jennifer Justus’s Pimiento Cheese recipe from her cookbook, Nashville Eats. In fact, Nashville Eats has pretty much all of my favorite Southern foods featured in it and is my new go-to hostess gift when visiting out-of-town friends.
The very first time I opened Nashville Eats, I was drawn to the recipe for pimiento cheese. Even though almost every Southern family has their own version of this cheese spread, Jennifer’s list of ingredients appealed to me: it used a mixture of real cheddar cheeses, it wasn’t too mayonnaisey or sweet, and it had a bit of heat in it. I was also drawn to the photo of the finished product; alas, it wasn’t puréed or whipped looking either. I remember immediately turning the corner of the page down indicating a pimiento cheese sandwich was in my future.
Pimientos, which is Spanish for peppers (the vegetable, not the spice), are small, red, heart-shaped, sweet peppers. I’ve never seen them for sale in anything but that small cute iconic jar with the golden-yellow top. That is about to change, too, because yesterday, I happened to see two small pimiento plants at the garden nursery which I grabbed and immediately planted in my garden. Soon, I’ll be able to try roasting my own pimientos.
Jennifer’s recipe makes about 1½ cups, but since I have doubled the ingredients each time I have made it, I went ahead and doubled the recipe for the blog. This recipe makes one full pint. It took four of us one day to polish it off — first in sandwiches for lunch, and then later, served with crackers, as an appetizer.
Do not use pre-shredded cheese as it is laden with a fine powder that keeps the cheddar pieces from sticking together. Also, I like to use Hellman’s or Duke’s “real” mayonnaise.
8 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces mild yellow cheddar, shredded
1 8-ounce jar diced pimientos, drained
½ cup mayonnaise (not the sweet, whipped stuff)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste, about 6-12 drops
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves (set aside)
Mise en Place
Shred the two varieties of cheese in a food processor, using the shredder apparatus, or shred by hand with a cheese grater.
Next, remove the shredder apparatus from the processor and install the regular cutting blade. Add the mayonnaise, pimientos, Worcestershire, hot sauce and ground pepper into the processing bowl.
Push the pulse button five quick times until the mixture is just blended and not puréed. This should be the equivalent of simply stirring the mixture together, but without having to dirty another bowl. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving to give the flavors a chance to meld. Use the chopped parsley as a garnish.
I like pimiento cheese spread on soft multigrain bread.
It doubles as a terrific appetizer.
My family loved this. Jennifer has another version of pimiento cheese in her book made with goat cheese that sounds amazing. I see a lot of possibilities for variations in this recipe by using my beloved garlic pepper instead of the plain black pepper, or adding a few of the many spring onions growing in the garden now, and maybe using arugula leaves in the sandwich, too. I’ve also heard pimiento cheese makes for a killer grilled panini sandwich.Yum!
He Said, She Said
And, now, from my side of the family — I like to make my Croation cheese spread, which uses fresh herbs and ingredients very familiar to me!
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