Southern caviar

Since this might be my signature dish, a detailed description of pimento cheese seems in order.  In the South, pimento cheese (aka Southern caviar) is a standard spread/dip used for snacks, appetizers and as a sandwich filling–preferably on white bread, sliced diagonally, with crusts neatly trimmed away.  If you don’t see it on the buffet line at a picnic, potluck, ladies luncheon or party, you are probably not around true Southern folk.  But don’t be rude and say anything–just smile, be gracious and say “Bless their hearts!” under your breath. Everybody loves pimento cheese; upscale restaurants feature it on their menus, but you can also get it by the pound in most supermarkets, like the Harris Teeter in Salisbury, NC.

I’m not a fan of these brands above, but the Harris Teeter version with jalapenos is quite good.  It’s a bit more expensive, but well worth it. I got some strange looks while I was taking photos of this stuff!

Harris Teeter pimento cheese

My dad taught me how to make pimento cheese, though I’ve made some changes and developed my own recipe.  This was my go-to dish for potlucks in San Francisco and I think I made some friends because of it!  The basic ingredients are so simple: cheese, mayo and pimentos.  I prefer a mix of habanero and sharp cheddar cheese. Duke’s mayonnaise is definitely the best, though not readily available outside of the Southeast.

There was only 1 jar of diced pimentos, so I reluctantly bought some roasted red peppers.  Some of the fancy recipes call for these instead of pimentos.  They claim the flavor is better, but that just seems wrong. Adding the peppers is nice, but you must include pimentos in pimento cheese! Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and worchestershire.

the usual suspects

This fabulous dish could not be easier to make! Shred the cheese, add the mayo, stir it up, and season to your liking. You don’t need to measure anything, just keep tasting along the way. Let the spread sit in the frig for a bit before serving so the flavors can blend and the spread sets a bit.

There are a ton of recipes and articles celebrating pimento cheese. This recipe looks interesting with the addition of pickles and includes some good background info.  Pimento cheese is served with everything from crackers to burgers to steaks.  In the summertime, it’s hard to beat celery stalks filled with cold pimento cheese.  I like spreading it on mini toasts or sandwich bread slices and putting it under the broiler for a bit to melt.  Crescent rolls stuffed with pimento cheese are also awesome. The buttery, flaky crust is a nice compliment to the creamy goodness that oozes out of those rolls.

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2 Responses to Southern caviar

  1. Jane says:

    Wow troxie, you’re really coming through with these jems of posts!! Nice use of “links” and good story-telling-content. I belive you will make many friends in grad school with your impressive blog writting and that mean pimmenna cheese of yours! 🙂

  2. troxie says:

    Confession: I took this pimmenna cheese to our first grad school activity and no one noticed. It was barely eaten! I was upset. Another chick brought this asaigo cheese dip that was off the chain. A bit less spicy than mine, but it seemed to be more of a crowd pleaser. I must get that recipe!

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