When it comes to whipping up pimento cheese, Southern folks are quick to argue its components. While everything from jalapenos and horseradish to onion and bacon grease (yes, you heard that correctly) have flavored this spread, it’s the classic combination of sharp cheddar, mayo and pimentos along with a dash of cream cheese and cayenne pepper that does it for me.
To maximize the flavor of this basic combination, I recommend shredding the cheddar by hand — avoid the pre-shredded stuff — and using only full-fat mayo (I’m a Duke’s gal, but Hellman’s is good, too). I am also a proponent of employing a little elbow grease and mixing everything by hand. While some prefer to use a food processor, I find that it overblends. Long live cheesy chunks.
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if you like it spicy
- 2 teaspoons pimento juice from the jar
- 4 tablespoons pimentos, chopped
- small rolls, (optional)
- In a large bowl, stir together cheese, mayonnaise, cayenne pepper and pimento juice. Stir in the pimentos by hand and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and place in the fridge. Chill for several hours, but best if refrigerated overnight.
- Fill small rolls with pimento cheese or serve from a crock with crackers and celery.