Sunday, December 28, 2008

Classic Pimento Cheese

Basic pimento cheese spread, made with sharp cheddar cheese, chopped pimentos, mayonnaise, and for me, a little hot sauce, Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire.

Classic Pimento Cheese

Classic pimento cheese, in its purest form is simply shredded yellow, or sometimes white cheddar, anywhere from mild to extra sharp, according to personal taste, and chopped or pureed pimentos and sometimes, canned or freshly roasted red peppers instead. Add a little pure mayonnaise, or depending on where you grew up in the South, even Miracle Whip salad dressing (but never at my house growing up). Traditionally, that'll be served up on white bread too - Bunny bread being our personal preference. That's about it, although there is many a Southern cook who is determined that she or he has that one secret ingredient they don't want to reveal to anybody.

You'll see pimento cheese made all kinds of ways these days - with cream cheese, vinegar, mustard, and a wide variety of cheeses. Sorry y'all... I just find all that too weird. though I do have a few of my own not-so-secret weapons that, I think, make pimento cheese just right.


Here in the Deep South, we generally like a little kick to ours, so besides a dash or two of good ole Worcestershire sauce that many Southerners use, you'll often find a bit of hot sauce and maybe a bit of cayenne or Cajun seasoning in the mix too.

Mix all that stuff up in a big ole bowl.


Add more mayonnaise as needed for the consistency you like.


Now you can just go and spread it on some bread, white is traditional...


...slap a lid on it and and there you have it. The pâté of the South.


But... to me, pimento always calls for little quartered tea sandwiches, even when it's just for me, so that's what I'm doing here. You can certainly get far more fancy than finger sandwiches, but we'll go old school here, like Mama used to make for those sweet bridal showers or that surprise shower for the expecting mama. Spread the filling out on the bread, but not quite to the edge. If you're making these for a party, you'll want to make a fairly thin layer. I'm making these generous for consumption by Mary.


Stack about 3 sandwiches together at a time if you're slicing them right away. Otherwise, you can stack them up back in the bread bag and refrigerate until you are ready to slice. That also helps them to set and firm up. Don't freeze them though - everything tends to separate and, well, it might not be so pretty.

Use a serrated knife to trim off the crusts, and wipe the knife with a paper towel between trims to keep things tidy.


Eat the trimmings or give them to the kids!


Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally, and then again, so you get quarters out of each sandwich.


A basic pimento cheese spread perfect for tiny finger sandwiches.


Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Basic Pimento Cheese

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 1 hour | Yield: About 80 tea sandwiches

Ingredients
  • 3 (10 ounce) blocks of sharp or extra sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 2 (7 ounce) jars/cans diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 cup, more or less, of real mayonnaise (like Dukes)
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce, or to taste, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning or cayenne, or to taste, optional
  • 1-1/2 pound loaf of white sandwich bread
Instructions

Combine the cheese, pimentos and mayonnaise by hand, or with a mixer, until well combined. Add Worcestershire, hot sauce and Cajun seasoning, along with additional mayonnaise as needed to reach desired consistency. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible.

Bring the pimiento cheese to room temperature. Spread it evenly across one slice of bread, top with another slice, and continue stacking until you have 3 or 4 whole sandwiches. Run a serrated knife slowly down the sides to remove all the crust. Cut into squares, strips, halves or quarter triangles, or use a small cookie cutter to cut out circles. Arrange on a doily-lined platter.

Cook's Notes: I like to add in a couple dashes of hot sauce and Worcestershire and Cajun seasoning, but for a milder blend leave those out. For a smoother spread, puree the drained pimientos in a blender or food processor. Add the cheese and mayonnaise and pulse until it reaches desired consistency. Substitute freshly roasted, chopped red peppers for the pimentos. Top it with some watercress and very thinly sliced sweet Vidalia onions if you want to match the Masters.

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Posted by on December 28, 2008
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