The first time I became aware of Pimento Cheese, I was seriously grossed out. The idea of taking a bunch of perfectly good cheese and slathering it in mayo seemed, well, unnecessary. And heart-attack inducing. But then I had my first bite of that pink-tinted wonder spread and I was sold. I was ready to pack my bags and head to the South to see what else they’ve got a-cookin’ down there and sample all the pimento cheeses. Yes, all of them.
The first Pimento Cheese I ever had was from Zingerman’s, an Ann Arbor institution. Over-priced or not, they know their food stuffs. So this recipe is, more or less, a copycat. It’s been awhile since I’ve had their Pimento Cheese, but this is what I remember it tasting like. Tangy, creamy, cheesy. All the good things.
The more familiar I become with Pimento Cheese, the more I am aware that there are different camps with regard to the brand of mayo, regular vs. sharp cheddar, and seasonings that go into Pimento Cheese. With that in mind, I don’t pretend that this is the world’s greatest Pimento Cheese Recipe. Having grown up in Oregon (and having no ties whatsoever to the South), I don’t think I could, in good faith, make that claim.
I do know that it’s really, really, exceedingly good. Especially when it’s sandwiched between two pieces of crusty bread and grilled to golden perfection. And if you don’t happen to be weirdly, ambiguously vegetarian with a question mark (who am I??), I imagine it would be taken to the next level with a couple pieces of crunchy bacon. Do with that information what you will.
As an aside, please don’t judge me for using roasted red peppers instead of actual pimento. It just
felt tasted right. And definitely don’t leave out the teaspoon of roasted red pepper “juice”. Just trust me on this. And I highly recommend using the sharpest cheddar you can find. Pimento cheese should bite back a little.
- 8 ounces sharp white cheddar
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup minced roasted red pepper
- 1 teaspoon liquid from roasted red pepper
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- pepper, to taste
- Coarsely shred the cheese. Measure out the mayonnaise in a medium bowl and add to it the red pepper, red pepper juice, celery salt, cayenne pepper, and pepper. Stir to combine and then add the shredded cheese. Carefully mix everything together.
- Serve with celery, crackers, bread, in a panini, on a burger, or any other way imaginable.