Monday, August 1, 2016

Amy's Pimento Cheese

I have loved and craved pimento cheese, a Southern staple, since I was pregnant with Lucy, who is 9 1/2. Fortunately, in Charlotte it's not hard to find good pimento cheese in restaurants and grocery stores, not to mention at get-togethers with friends. I just can't believe it took me this long to make my own.

On crackers or pita chips, plain or in a sandwich, I really love pimento cheese. My girls like to take pimento cheese in their school lunches. Bless their little Southern hearts. If you have never had a grilled pimento cheese sandwich ... well, get on that.

You might also consider making pimento cheese a day or two ahead of when you want to serve it. I noticed mine tasted better after it sat for a few days in the fridge; it was less mayonnaise-y than the very first day. My N.C.-born and bred friend Ashley came over several days after I made my pimento and declared, "This is very good."


PS: Pimento cheese joins my other Southern dishes — collards, cornbread, deviled eggs and low country boil.

Amy's Pimento Cheese

16-ounce block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cream cheese softened
Scant 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder — or extremely finely grated onion
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4-ounce jar of diced pimento, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

First, make sure to buy a block of extra-sharp cheddar cheese and shred it yourself, using the side of the grater that make larger shreds. Pre-shredded cheese that you buy at the store has been dusted with cellulose to keep the shreds from sticking together, which doesn't make for good pimento. And now that I know this I may never buy pre-shredded cheese again.

Place cream cheese in large bowl of electric mixer and mix at medium speed until lighter and no big chunks remain. Add in remaining ingredients and mix on medium, occasionally stopping to use a spatula to turn the mixture by hand so that all is blended together.

Refrigerate in an air-tight container a couple hours before eating. Can last a week or more in the fridge.

Don't forget to make some grilled pimento cheese sandwiches!

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