(My pimento cheese photos circa 2009 needed a little update. The excerpt below is taken from the recipe archives.)
I do not have fond memories of pimento cheese. When I was a child, we always had a carton of the unnaturally bright grocery store brand in the fridge, which my dad used to scoop onto anything he could get his hands on. Sometimes he would wave a day-glow orange sandwich under my nose, and I would run away screaming my little head off.
It wasn’t until college that I found an appreciation for this Southern staple. Every time my roommate Ben went home to Raleigh to visit his grandmother, he would return with a vat of from-scratch pimento cheese—you know, the real thing. I didn’t even know it could be homemade! I had always assumed it could only be processed in a mysterious factory off the New Jersey Turnpike, along with Twinkies and Moon Pies and other synthetic foods.
My roommates and I would stand blissfully around the kitchen counter slathering slices of Wonder Bread with the chunky spread, barely swallowing before attacking the next bite. That pimento cheese got us through quite a few Boone ice storms and continues to show up in vats in my refrigerator today. All I can say is, thank God for grandmas!
I've been tweaking this pimento cheese recipe over the years and finally have it just the way I like it. Mine may have some ingredients that certain purists may snark at, but they're the ones missing out. Serve with crostini, saltines, or in a (white bread) sandwich.
Source: Nealey Dozier Yields: 2 cups
1 (8 ounce) block sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated 1 (8 ounce) block white cheddar cheese, grated 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature 1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke's or Hellmann's only) 1 tablespoon pickle juice 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder A few big splashes of Worcestershire sauce Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat the shredded cheeses, cream cheese, pimientos, mayonnaise, pickle juice, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce until completely combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow flavors to marry, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Pimento cheese will keep up to two weeks, although it never lasts that long.