One of my good friends is originally from Maine, but recently moved to Nashville to get her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt. She’s super impressive, y’all. Anyway, a few weeks after she moved, she called me to ask about a cheese spread she kept seeing in the grocery stores there. She described it and I remember thinking: “OMG, she doesn’t know what pimento cheese is.” I’ve eaten pimento cheese my whole life (except for a brief period when I decided I didn’t like mayo), so it never dawned on me that not everyone knows about it.
Well, people, I’m here to fix all that. Below is my tried and true recipe for pimento cheese. It’s pretty much the same one my dad uses. I generally have it in the fridge at all times, you know, in case of emergencies. This recipe makes a TON. You can certainly cut it back, but I don’t know why you would. Pimento cheese is so easy to make at home. In fact, I forbid you to buy it pre-made. Plus, by making it yourself, you can control the ingredients. For some reason, a lot of the store-bought brands I’ve seen have sugar. That’s not okay.
1 lb mild cheddar cheese, grated
0.5 lbs sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 7-8 oz jar of roasted red peppers, diced
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Scallions or chives (optional garnish)
Grate all the cheese by hand. (You may be tempted to buy the pre-shredded kind, but you must resist. I’ve tried it and can save you the disappointment. The texture of the final product will be completely wrong.) Once you’ve shredded the cheese, add it to a big bowl and stir in the roasted red peppers. (I realize this recipe is called pimento cheese, but pimentos come in tiny jars so you have to buy a bunch for a single batch. They can also be hard for some people to digest. I’ve used roasted red peppers for years and the flavor is just as good.) Now it’s time for the mayo. Start with 1/2 a cup. This won’t be enough, but we must start somewhere. Once you’ve stirred that in, add more mayo in 1/4 cup increments until the spread is the texture you want. I usually end up using a cup or so. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Garnish with scallions or chives if desired, and serve with crackers. This also makes a great grilled cheese.