ODE TO PIMIENTO CHEESE

No self-respecting Southern soirée is complete without pimiento cheese. And every Southern host or hostess has at least one pimiento cheese recipe in his or her repertoire. It’s a tradition. It’s a requirement. It’s a Southern staple.

To the unenlightened, pimiento cheese is little more than a gloppy mix of cheese and mayonnaise served on pieces of celery. Bless their hearts. They’ve just never had the good stuff.

Opinions vary greatly among Southern cooks as to what constitutes the perfect pimiento cheese. However, we all agree that you always start with the basics: cheddar cheese, high-quality mayonnaise and pimiento peppers. From there the possibilities are endless.

I love experimenting with flavor combinations: smoked cheddar vs sharp cheddar; sweet pickles vs pickled hot peppers; cream cheese vs goat cheese; scallions vs jalapeños. My mouth waters just thinking about this delectable dip.

Today I’m sharing a tangy, rich concoction that’s slightly spicy. I use sharp white cheddar, extra sharp yellow cheddar, a dollop of Dijon mustard and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Texture is definitely a personal preference. I finely grate the white cheddar and use the larger grate for the yellow cheddar. This gives me a dip that is a bit creamy, but not too chunky. I add a little color and kick with chives and jalapeño. And the only store-bought mayonnaise I use is Duke’s. If you live above the Mason-Dixon line you may have trouble finding it in your local grocery store. I highly recommend importing it.

This Southern delicacy is just as welcome at a formal wedding as it is at a casual family picnic. For the fancy parties, serve it with crudités and homemade pita chips. At the low-key family gathering, Fritos Scoops will do just fine. And don’t be afraid to slather it on your favorite sandwich or burger or scramble it into your eggs. It moonlights as a condiment.

Give cheese a chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy Ya’ll!
Marcy

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