Every region of this country has a sandwich its known for. Philadelphia has the Cheesesteak, New York City’s delis will always have Pastrami on Rye, New Orleans’ is certainly the Po-boy and in my home state of Mississippi, if you ask me, it’s Pimento Cheese.
Pimento cheese was always in our refrigerator growing up. Homemade, of course because buying pimento cheese in a store would be just as sinful as walking into church without a slip on! It was always made with hoop cheese (also known as red ring cheese), a simple cheese that was once pretty popular in the south, Blue Plate mayonnaise because no other brand exists according to my momma, garlic powder and of course pimentos.
Whenever I start talking with momma about making a trip home to Mississippi, she starts planning what we’re going to eat. She says, “Now, I know you’re going to be driving in here late, so I’ll just make up some pimento cheese so you can have it when you get in.” And just as sure as the sun comes up, that bowl is always in the fridge when I drive in. It’s always in the same container, too- a plastic mixing bowl that’s been in her kitchen for as long as I can remember, with a handle and a pour spout. You can bet, hungry or not, I go straight to the fridge, grab the bowl, the bag of Fritos and commence to eatin’!
This recipe is an original, influenced strongly by how momma does it, but also by some other tastes. I’ve added cream cheese because my friend Clara puts cream cheese in hers & it’s delicious. Some chopped pecans—Charlie’s suggestion and a darn fine one, too. And my contribution is the jalapeno—just to give our Southern staple some kick! Hope you enjoy this Kelley twist on a classic!
- 1 pound block extra sharp (or sharp) cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup Blue Plate mayonnaise
- 1 jar pimentos, drained (reserve juice) & chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 full tablespoons chopped, fresh jalapeño pepper (may add more to taste)
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Grate cheese block over a large bowl.
- Mix in mayonnaise and cream cheese (may add more cream cheese if a creamier consistency is desired). Add a little bit of pimento juice as needed to aid in blending. Stir with a fork to blend. Add pecans and jalapeno pepper and stir.
- Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a sandwich with lettuce & tomato or on a grilled cheese sandwich, with celery sticks, may add to a hamburger or with crackers.