I was trying to put together a menu for this weeks post when a close friend of mine called me and said, “I’ve made a huge batch of pimento cheese last night, I’ll bring you over some after work.” I politely declined and said, “I’m not a fan.” She responded with something like, “phsht, oh come on. Have you ever even tried pimento cheese?” No, I hadn’t and was ashamed to admit that I’d said no to something I’d never tasted. “You’ll like it,” she promised.
So I’ll admit I had to look up pimento cheese the first time I heard about it. Growing up in the northeast it wasn’t one of the comfort foods that I had become familiar with. Actually when I finally I figured out what it was, I thought pimento cheese sounded perfectly awful. Mayo? American cheese? Jarred peppers? Why would I want to eat that? It was a southern tradition that I was fine to miss out on. Except that it kept popping up, at restaurants, in conversations and cocktail parties… I remained skeptical even when a friend ordered it at a diner in the grilled cheese fashion, and enjoyed it. It really took one of my best friends – originally from Mississippi – making a homemade batch, for me to try it. I trusted her not to steer me wrong, but I still told her no thanks the first time she offered. She persisted. I finally gave in and said, “What!? This is what I’ve been missing?” It was good. Really really good. Since then I’ve had pimento cheese with sliced apples, crackers, warmed up on toast as she suggested. I was a convert. What I learned is that like any dip, spread or sauce, there’s a supermarket processed version, and then there’s homemade. There are so many possibilities with pimento cheese, you could add pickles or garlic, mix different kinds of cheeses, or spice up your mayo.
So Basically I’ve learned to shut my mouth, open my mind and try anything once. Especially when it’s homemade. I think I’ve made my southern friends very happy.
Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese Sandwich PRINT RECIPE
[Prep: 25min / Cook: 5min / TOTAL: 30min]
The hardest part of this recipe is making your homemade mayo – which of course is totally optional. While I’d like to say that I whipped it all up by hand, I recently got a mini food processor and really wanted to try it out. So first I added all of the ingredients for the mayo – except the oil – together in the mini food processor and pulsed it a few times. Then I slowly added the oil bit by bit until the ingredients started to come together, thicken, and become mayo. It really is that easy, and it tastes delicious. You should experiment with herbs and spices to make “fancy” mayo, a good way impress any dinner guest.
To make the pimento cheese spread start by shredding the smoked gouda, you can do this by hand or in a larger food processor that has a part for shredding cheese. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the cheese, yogurt, mayo, and pimento peppers. Finely chop up the rest of the herbs and veggies, incorporate and mix well. There you have it! Pimento Cheese.
This type of cheese spread can be served many different ways, with crackers or veggie sticks, but I think the best way is the grilled cheese way. Basically just pile as much pimento cheese onto a slice of bread as you can handle, top it off with another slice and “grill” on a well-oiled cast iron skillet over med heat. Flip after one side is browned and toasted, about 3 minutes and cover, waiting about 1 more minute.
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