Pimento cheese

Of all the processed, pre-packaged junk overflowing from modern American supermarkets, the worst item surely must be the premade pimento cheese.  Yuk…it’s the color of old earwax, the texture of drywall compound slowly going bad, and it tastes of inferior “cheese food product” and of the plastic tubs it inhabits.  Besides, a competent sixth-grader armed with a food processor can turn out very good pimento cheese, so why bother with the storebought kind?

Oh, okay:  maybe some people don’t know any better.  Those poor saps never had a toasted light-bread sandwich spread with granny’s homemade P.C.  They never slathered it on a hamburger, or put it on a bacon sandwich when no one was looking, or used it to top a baked potato, or stirred it into hot grits.  (The people who buy the tubs of P.C. probably never had homemade root beer, either, but that’s a rant for another day.)

So break out the food processor, buy some sharp cheddar (or clean out the refrigerator cheese drawer), and enjoy the homemade real thing:  stuffed into celery stalks, mixed into devilled egg filling,  stuck inside olives for your martini, spread onto melba toast or Ak-Mak crackers, eaten with sourdough pretzels, or any other way you damn well please.

(Note:  back in 2003, the Southern Foodways Alliance solicited pimento cheese recipes & stories from all over the country…see the winning entries here. If P.C. is near & dear to your heart, you should track down the companion PC Invitational cookbook.)

Food processor pimento cheese

  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar, or a blend of sharp & mild cheddary cheeses (colby will work in a pinch)
  • 2 oz hard, aged grating cheese (parmesan, pecorino romano, or dry jack will do), finely grated
  • 2 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
  • 2 tsp garlic pepper sauce (Asian or cajun, whichever is your favorite–I used Campbell Farms’ jalapeno/cayenne pepper sauce)
  • 4 to 6 oz sliced jarred pimentos (red roasted peppers)

In a food processor fitted with a grating blade, grate the cheddar.  Switch to a chopping blade and add the hard grated cheese, neufchatel, and pepper sauce.  Process until the cheese begins to appear pasty, then add the half of the sliced pimentos.  Process in short bursts until the cheese reaches spreading consistency, then add the remaining pimentos and process a few seconds more.  (Adding the pimentos in two batches allows some of the peppers to be pureed into the cheese, boosting color and flavor, while other bits retain a chunky texture.)  Scrape P.C. into an airtight storage container, and try not to eat it in the first three days.  It will keep two or three weeks.

Notes:  A pressed clove of garlic makes a nice addition, but raw garlic shortens the shelf life.  PC made with raw garlic is best consumed within several hours.  A tiny bit of gorgonzola or Maytag blue cheese can substitute for the parmesan, but go easy:  it tends to take over.  Use just enough to provide a counterpoint to the cheddar.  You can even zhoosh it up with chutney, a bit of tamarind concentrate, or chopped nuts, if the old-faithful version seems too retro or plain to your modern palate.

9 thoughts on “Pimento cheese

  1. On Jefferson Highway close to Whole Foods. It is wonderful. They also have the absolute best chicken salad you ever put in your body.

  2. I made some pimento cheese this afternoon, using your recipe as a jumping off point. It turned out really good! I’ll be having it on toast with tomatoes and maybe some ham. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. We are fortunate to have some exceptional hand made PC that the local market sells. It’s made in small batches by hand and is as good as what I make myself.

    But the store bought kind from the grocery store is pretty vile stuff. In fact, someone should take a flamethrower to that whole “cold prepared salads in a plastic tub” section. Why would you eat that e-coli looking macaroni salad, chicken salad, potato salad and pimiento cheese when all are easy to make yourself and WWWAAAYYYYY better fresh. I don’t want to even know what they put in their mayo to make it last.

    • I’m with you on those suspicious tubs of mayo-laden items…scary stuff. I’ll eat raw fish & beef carpaccio, but I’m not brave enough to buy deli potato salad.

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