This is a spread that I never hear of one who grew tired of putting on it on a fresh slice of sandwich bread, toasted or not. After school, on the run, or just for a good lunch, always remember the South's most iconic spread.
You can prepare pimiento or pimento, both correct, in various ways and it always comes out dreamy. Try it creamy, herby, sweet and spicy, zesty and tipsy, re with Bourbon and you will always be happy.
First is Creamy Pimiento Cheese starts with 6 cups of freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 pounds); 1/2 (8-ounces) package of cream cheese; and 1 tsp. ground red pepper. Dig out the heavy-duty electric stand mixer and set at a medium speed. Blend all of the above 1 to 2 minutes but not to smooth. Then add (7-ounce) jar of whole peeled pimiento, drained and cut into fourths and beat 1 to 2 minutes or until pimiento is shredded and mixture is blended and somewhat smooth. Garnish with freshly ground pepper, if desired, and you have made four cups.
Next is Herby Pimiento Cheese. Take a 12-ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers that are drained and finely chopped and stir with 1 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill, 2Tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp. chopped jarred pepperoncini salad peppers, 1 Tbsp. grated fresh horseradish. Gently stir in 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Havarti cheese until well blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with pepperonacini salad peppers, (which are Tuscan peppers or sweet Italian peppers or golden Greek peppers) and fresh dill, if desired. This makes 6 cups.
The third cheese is an old favorite, the Southern Pimiento Cheese. Start with baking 1/2 cup of chopped pecans at 350 degrees F. in a shallow pan 8 to10 minutes or until roasted and fragrant, stirring half way through. Cool 20 minutes. Stir together 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 (7 ounces) jar of drained diced pimiento, 1/2 cup chopped jarred sweet-hot picked jalapeno pepper slices, and toasted pecans. Stir in 4 cups freshly grated mild Cheddar cheese (1 pound) until well blended. Garnish with sweet-hot pickled jalapeno pepper slices and toasted chopped pecans. if desired. Makes 5 cups. The Original Texas Sweet and Hot Jalapeno works well.
Taken from the Delta Bistro in Greenwood, Mississippi comes Mary Ann's Pimiento Cheese is our fourth cheese. Stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise,3 (4 ounce) jars diced drained pimento, 1/4 cup green onions,1 Tbsp. dry mustard, 1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, 3/4 tsp. celery seeds, 3/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in 5 cups freshly graded white Cheddar cheese (1 1/4 pounds) until well blended. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours. Garnish with sliced green onion, if desired. Makes about 5 cups.
The last cheese is really South, Charleston, South Carolina. Hominy Grill there serves this Pimiento Cheese sandwich. I love the beauty of the moss hanging from the trees in Charleston and they make some great rum mixed drinks on the river.
Back to eating, Stir together 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup jarred sliced pimento, rinsed and finely chopped, 1/1/2 Tbsp. Bourbon, 1 tsp. ancho chile powder, 1/4 ts. ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Stir in cups freshly grated sharp
powder, 1/4 ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper. Stir in 6 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 pounds) and 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese until well blended. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Makes 4 cups.
Now take the sweet and spicy pimiento cheese and make your first sandwich. Butter 1 side of each bead slice. Place 8 bread slices, buttered sides down, on a hot griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat. Spread 1/2 cup pimiento cheese over each bread slice on griddle. Top each with 2 cooked bacon slices. Then place remaining 8 bread slices, buttered sides up. on bacon. Turn sandwiches. and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown. (Pimento cheese should be slightly melted.) Now serve with strawberry preserves and everyone will be glad you take the DDD.
Have a Happy.
Larry Eiker is a Kennett resident who enjoys traveling all over the world and experiencing great food, while bringing some of those ideas back home to the Bootheel to share with others.