Pimento cheese has sometimes been referred to as the pâté of the south. I don’t know about you, but it’s so much better than påté! It’s rich and creamy and the perfect accompaniment to any picnic basket. I must be honest though, I never touched this glorious food as a youngster. The adults ate this foreign fodder. I stuck with my macaroni and cheese, thank you very much. I knew where the good stuff was, and no one could tempt me from my familiar food. The word pimento sounded like nothing I wanted to put into my mouth. So for years, I was without the buttery, luscious taste of pimento cheese. It was only until recently that I was converted and fell in love with this superb Southern staple. Now, I have found room for both my mac and cheese and pimento as well. They are the best of friends in my tummy.
*This recipe doesn’t use jarred pimentos but fresh red bell peppers roasted over an open flame!
Recipe: Adapted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes from Highlands Bar & Grill
Makes About 2 Cups
1 ½ red bell peppers
1 pound of sharp cheddar
¼ pound of cream cheese, room temperature and cubed
½ cup of good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of sugar
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Put the red bell peppers on an open flame on a gas stovetop. Char the skin until all sides are black. Place the charred peppers into a bowl and cover for a few minutes. This will create steam and allow the skins to come off easily. Once the peppers have cooled, hold the stem and scrape off the blackened skin. Make sure all of the skin has been peeled off and the seeds are discarded. Finely dice the peppers.
Finely shred the cheese. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined. Keep in fridge until ready to serve. You can serve this spread on crackers, have it as a sandwich or serve it as a crostini with bacon or green onions. Enjoy!