There are just some specialities (many would say, “a lot of them!”) that the South is well known for having invented, or at least will take take any and all credit for perfecting. This would include: barbeque (of course), grits, fried chicken, iced tea, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and one of my favorites, pimento cheese.
Just like many good southern gals, I believe that my momma makes the best pimento cheese in the world. On any given day there will be pimento cheese in my mother’s refrigerator. Unless she’s out on a jaunt with the “gambling grandma’s” (this is story for another time!) there’s a Tupperware bowl of her pimento cheese on hand. As she says, “just in case anyone gets hungry.”
If your taste for this delectable spread has thus far been limited to any grocery store brand pimento cheese, then I urge you to try this recipe. This is applicable even if you 1) think said commercial brand(s) you have tried are putrid OR 2) you consider the commercial brand(s) palatable but nothing special. Good homemade pimento cheese will change your mind. But before I go further, I will state that there is one commercially-produced brand out there that I consider very, very good.
The brand is Palmetto Cheese, out of Pawley’s Island, SC. It is carried by Publix, Kroger, Piggly Wiggly and Costco among other mainstream grocers throughout the Lowcountry. For those who live outside this area (sorry!) you can order it online through the Palmetto Cheese web site. I especially like the Palmetto Cheese with jaleponos. When time is short and sandy Lowcountry beaches beckon, we’ll pick up a container at the Edisto Piggly Wiggly and enjoy it right out the carton with crackers (and a cocktail!) on the breezy back porch. It makes a simple, tasty sandwich for lunch, too.
But when there is time, we get out the grater and make Sarah Ann’s pimento cheese. Just be prepared to make another batch because this stuff is addictive! Just go ahead and buy a whole pound of cheddar to make that batch, you know you want to!
Sarah Ann’s Pimento Cheese
- ½ pound cheddar cheese – medium or sharp or a combination
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- (1) 4 oz small jar pimentos, drained
- 1-2 tbl sweet pickle juice
- fresh cracked pepper
- Optional: minced jalepeno peppers.
- Optional: sliced pickled okra or pickled jalepenos
First step is to use a decent cheese. DO NOT use “cheese product”, i.e. American cheese or anything like that. This requires real cheese. The next step is to grate the cheese by hand, preferable using the smaller cheese grating slot, but not a microplane grater. You should get approximately 3 cups of grated cheese – place this in a medium mixing bowl.
The pimentos should be in a small chop so do that step, if necessary. However, note that you still want to recognize the ‘pimentos as pimentos’ so don’t mash them into oblivion. Add these to the cheese in the bowl.
Add the mayo to the cheese/pimento mixture. Using a fork (this is important) gently stir everything until just combined. *Add in 1 tablespoon of pickle juice and a few cracks of pepper and stir again just enough to combine. Then taste the pimento cheese. If it’s to your liking you’re good, if not, add another tablespoon of pickle juice and/or more cracked pepper. Stir and taste test. Makes about 2 cups of great pimento cheese. Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered until ready to use.
* If you like hot & spicy pimento cheese, at this point you should stir in several tablespoons of minced jalepeno peppers.