Pimento cheese found me late in life.
I’d known my share of cheese spreads, but they all came in a plastic tub, WisPride being a family favorite. For a holiday dinner, one of my aunts might make a cheese ball rolled in chopped walnuts, but no one in my New England world considered that you could produce your very own cheese spread.
I grew up and learned that during all those years our compatriots in the Southern states were lapping up this spicy little number.
I’m making up for lost time now by keeping a batch of pimento cheese on hand for every occasion, and especially for grilled cheese sandwiches and grilled burgers.
Pimento grilled cheese:
Honestly, grilled cheese had always bored me a little. Yes, the oozing cheese was a lovely thing and the buttery toasted bread, too.
But something was always lacking on the excitement index. I’d try mayonnaise, dijon or tomato, but none could pull the whole thing together and kick it up a notch.
Then, I met pimento cheese with its hit of onion, bite of cayenne and bits of roasted red pepper all bound together with the grated extra-sharp cheddar by the mayonnaise.
Once melted–and it melts at precisely the time the bread is nut brown–it sings a little ditty in my mouth with every bite, and keeps me humming (could it be “Dixie”?) all day long.
Typically, I skip the cheese on my burger. But pimento cheese is game changing. Everything about it heightens the burger experience, from the pimentos to the melting texture.
Another plus is that you don’t have to wait for the cheese to melt. Just spread it on the hot-off-the-grill burger.
I try to have a batch of this pimento cheese in the fridge all summer long, so I can go the pimento cheeseburger route anytime.
- 2 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated and brought to room temperature
- 2 teaspoons grated onion
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons roasted red pepper, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
- fine sea salt
- black pepper
Stir together the cheese, onion, cayenne, mayonnaise and red pepper in a mixing bowl until it is creamy. Taste and add a pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper, if needed.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove from the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before serving.