Like pizza, pimento cheese spread has an array of fans, who are highly opinionated. Those with a fondness for the Southern delicacy can find commercial spreads in the dairy section. But they’re often bland or loaded with additives.
Local devotees make their own or wait to find the spread on menus, when traveling through Cape Girardeau and beyond.
Wide Spread Uses
The versatile spread can be used on crackers, tea sandwiches, grilled cheese, burgers, hot dogs, bacon-tomato sandwiches, potatoes or grits. Stuff it into celery, peppers or deviled eggs, or use it as a dip.
Some say its creamy texture and protein-packed ingredients make it prefect for treating a hangover. (I cannot vouch for this.)
“A Southern Pâté”
Various recipes abound. Some include cream cheese (for more spreadability), sugar, salad peppers, fresh dill, toasted pecans, vinegar, chipotle peppers in adobo, chili powder, or jalapeño peppers. Even bourbon! Why not? This is Southern comfort food. (Pun intended)
Putting Pep into Your Pimento
Usually, I make a half batch for myself, since my kids and grandkids have shown no particular fondness for pimento cheese.
I also use Duke’s mayo (a Southern favorite) for even more authentic flavor. The spread makes a dandy bacon grilled cheese. A mixture of chopped olives, carrots, cauliflower, sweet peppers, and capers adds even more zip.
Spread the Goodness
If you don’t want to go to the little effort it takes to make this recipe, the Pioneer Woman speaks highly of the Smoked Gouda cheese spread from Whole Foods. I’ve not tried it, but it’s on my list. Her own recipe is spiked with all kinds of flavor tidbits. The one I make most often if shown below.
Pimento Cheese Spread
6 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 lb.)
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s mayo preferred)
1 tablespoon grated yellow onion
1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted (opt.)
8 pimento-stuffed olives (opt.)
¼ tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbs. dry sherry
1 (7-oz.) jar whole peeled pimiento, drained and chopped
With electric mixer, beat Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and yellow onion at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until blended, but not smooth. Remove to bowl.
Using a spoon, add in the pecans and olives (if using), hot sauce, and sherry.
Drain and pat pimentos dry with a paper towel. Add chopped pimientos to mixture. Chill for, at least, a few hours before serving.