Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pimento Cheese -- Simply Southern

For those of you outside the South, pimento cheese might be a foreign concept. I've heard tales of sightings above the Mason-Dixon Line, but I think these must be random at best. I believe only Southerners consider this mayonnaise-bound cheese and pepper spread to be a staple -- the type of thing you find everywhere from a remote gas station to a high brow wedding! Granted, it will be in a plastic tub at the gas station and closely resembling all of its neighboring processed foods. While in nuptial hors d'oeuvre form, it will most certainly be a delicate layer of a finger sandwich (which will be piled high on a silver tray!)

I love pimento cheese of all types. Growing up in Georgia, an impromptu dinner might consist of the gas station variety heartily spread on two pieces of that overly soft white bread. But I also remember the more refined, homemade versions that consisted of hand-grated, sharp cheddar mixed with mayonnaise, pimento peppers, and the cook's choice of seasonings.

Just as I felt compelled to come up with my own fried chicken recipe to complete my Southern cook's rite of passage, I also knew that I must have my take on pimento cheese. I began working on this long before the Glass Onion, and I don't think I quit tinkering until opening day when it became staple on our menu.

Sarah's Pimento Cheese

I am crazy about pimento cheese, and so I naturally put some heart into creating our version. Obviously, this is a simple treat, but sometimes simple is best. My only stipulation is that Duke's mayonnaise makes a delicious difference!

At the GO, we serve this on brioche from Normandy Farms Bakery as a grilled sandwich, and at brunch, as an omelette, but all you really need are some nice buttery crackers for a perfect snack.

2 cups grated sharp cheddar
½ cup canned or jarred pimento peppers, drained and chopped
¼ cup chopped green onions
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Dash of hot sauce

Combine cheddar, pimentos, and green onions in a medium bowl; set aside. Combine mayonnaise, pepper, salt, cayenne, and hot sauce in a medium bowl; whisk together. Add mayonnaise to cheese mixture; gently stirring together using a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. (The only real mistake you can make here is overworking the pimento cheese; hence, we suggest that you "gently stir.")

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer; about 3 cups

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