As is so typical of my food saga stories, this one began with a craving, continued months later with a disgruntled me complaining of the mass-produced, store-bought version prompting a lengthy internet search for recipes followed by lots of testing, and ending--FINALLY--with a recipe I love and can call my own. Of course, this all happened about a year ago too. *smile*
Pimento cheese. I honestly didn't know it was such a nostalgic southern thing until I started reading people's stories that went along with their recipes. Memories of their grandmothers making dainty "pimenta cheese" sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off. Hey now. We'll have none of that here. I wanted a good, stiff pimento cheese (not the kind dripping with mayo!) that could talk back to a crust and leave you wanting more no matter what side of the Mason-Dixon line you grew up in.
And here it is folks. Oh, just a note about the peppers. I know this is called pimento cheese, but I kinda cheated and used plain ol' red bell pepper. Even at $1 a piece, it beats paying for a tiny jar of pimentos, and I thought it tasted just as good. I made this with fresh, raw peppers as well as roasted ones. It was delicious both ways.
Pimento Cheese (and cheese ball--read to the end!)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (may use 1/2 Monterrey Jack)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP minced onion
6 TBSP mayonnaise
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped (usually 1/2 a pepper)
Place everything except 1/2 of the shredded cheese and the bell pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cheese and red bell pepper and pulse until incorporated. (I like my pepper pieces and some of the cheese to remain intact rather than blended into one orange mess--see picture below) Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir together until they're thoroughly mixed! Tastes better after a day or two in the fridge. If it lasts that long. It will stiffen up in the fridge (which makes it a great pretzel dip!) so get it out to warm a bit if you want to spread it for sandwiches. Other ways to eat it: as a veggie dip, on a burger, in a grilled cheese sandwich, tossed with mac n' cheese, or just straight off your tasting finger!
the texture I like
size of onion mince vs. chopped pepper
To make this into a cheese ball, just add less mayonnaise (I used 4 TBSP instead of 6) and form it into a ball after it has been refrigerated. The one below I rolled in a mixture of chopped parsley and toasted sliced almonds. Use a small knife or cheese spreader to serve this.