Proper Pimento Cheese

So anywhere in the South you go there are the ubiquitious plastic tubs of pimento cheese. The best-known is Mrs. Grissom’s,  actually made by Grace Grissom (well, not actually – I think she must be in her 80s by now) and for store-bought stuff it’s pretty good. You’ll see pimento cheese sandwiches at every church social, funeral and wedding. They are a requirement.

But my friend, Howard Lewis, a travel agent to the stars in Beverly Hills and fellow barbecue judge, went on a search for proper pimento cheese while in Nashville for a barbecue contest. It got me to thinking about what really good pimento cheese should be. I took him to Martha’s at the Plantation, a high-end lunch place run by the well-regarded chef Martha Stamps. She serves a very high end pimento cheese, made with white Cheddar. It was actually too high end. I was disappointed for Howard.

That led me to the grail of all things Southern food-wise (on the internet, at least), the Southern Foodways Alliance, a great little outfit run out of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. They collect real-deal Southern food stories, recipes, oral historys in an attempt to preserve the only native American cuisine. And here I found the absolute perfect, utterly delicious pimento cheese recipe ever.

pimento-cheese-2

Here it is:

Lella’s Pimento Cheese

Grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1/2 a food processor full)

1 4-ounce jar pimentos

Dash onion powder

Dash red pepper or Tabasco sauce

Dash Worchestershire sauce

Pinch sugar (less than 1/4 teaspoon)

Mayonnaise

Pulse together everything but the mayonnaise and then add enough mayo to create a thick smooth mixture.

2 Comments

  1. jordan
    jordanReply
    December 10, 2008 at 1:10 am

    desperate for pimento cheese in manhatten/im from memphis and married a new yorker/cant find it in any grocery store.why

  2. momsguidetogrilling
    momsguidetogrillingReply
    December 21, 2008 at 12:56 am

    They don’t have pimento cheese in Manhattan for the same reason they don’t have country ham. Nobody knows what to do with it. I lived in Reno, NV., for five years and we had to import country ham, barbecue and make our own pimento cheese. I promise if you make this recipe you’ll never go back to store-bought anyway.

    Here’s an appetizer that will convert any Northerner to right-thinking ways: Make your homemade pimento cheese. Get some banquettes and slice them into thin slices. Spread with pimento cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

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