Most of the great food traditions of the American south are traceable back to Africa. Barbecue, okra, greens, field peas, red beans, rice, cornbread, yams, and peanuts all came from Africa with the first slaves. Not this recipe though! Probably the greatest contribution Anglos have ever made to cuisine, Pimento Cheese is a kitchen staple down here. A frankenstein creation of dairy products, mayonnaise, and spices, it really has no business tasting this good. For 'pimentos' most people use roasted and canned red bell peppers, but I don't like the taste or texture as much as these fresh pickled mini-peppers.
200gpickled peppersfrom 1lb. of minis - see recipe
50gmayonnaisealways Duke's - see note
2gwhite pepper1/2 tbsp
6ggranulated garlic1/2 tbsp
6gdried onion powder1/2 tbsp
Make one recipe for pickled peppers a few days before. Let the cream cheese soften for a few hours at room temperature. Cut peppers in half, reserving the brine for next time or another use. Remove the seeds and stems, then small dice the peppers with a sharp knife.
Coarsely shred the cheese using a food processor or box grater. I used a white cheddar aged 2-years from Vermont. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and gently fold to mix. Try not to break up all the cheese, it should still look shredded.
Pimento Cheese keeps for a long time in the fridge, either packed in mason jars or tupperware, just don't try to freeze it. In my house it's never gone bad since I eat it all first.
You could fire-roast the peppers before pickling them or try adding jalapeños and cayenne for a kick.
Real pimento cheese must only be made with Duke's brand mayo. If you haven't tried it you're missing out. It is hard to get outside the southeast, but totally worth it.
If you want to use pimento cheese as a dip, add mayo for a more spreadable texture. But if you want to melt it, like I do on grilled cheese, omelettes, and burgers, stick to the smaller amount of mayo.
Pimento Cheese and Bacon are a synergistic pairing, and just like peanut butter and jelly they make a damn fine sandwich together.