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