Pimento Cheese is a Southern thing, or so I thought. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook from 1952 is filled with interesting recipes like this from the “Boston Cooking School”. Folks in the Fifties seem to worry about flavor though: a finely minced half clove of garlic is a common addition. Mayonnaise is a good addition to everything. So maybe this is just a 50s thing that is still done in the South. Anyway… I can’t walk into Safeway and get this off the shelves like I can at Ingles or Publix. Even there it seems to be somewhat “house made”. Basically this a “cheese salad” in the way you can add mayo to anything and get a “salad”. In this case, it’s a salad spread: it’s amazing on saltines.
Some recipes call for cream cheese as well as cheddar. Some call for white and yellow cheddar. I don’t quite understand these options, but they are out there. To start, I didn’t have any sharp cheese. You need sharp for this: it’s gotta stand up to everything else. I had mild cheddar, so I made do and I upped the cheesy umami by adding nutritional yeast. Good olives are important. Yes I know it says “pimento cheese” but everyone and their granny has their own recipe for this. This is mine.
You need a food processor for this. Mine is kinda tiny so I made it in two half-batches. You can tinker with the ratios, and again, this is mine… you may like it cheesier or spicier. You can make it wetter by adding more mayo.
- 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese cubed into 1/2″ dice.
Let this sit out about 2-4 hours (covered) to come to room temperature and get nice and soft.
- 12 ounces pimento-stuffed green olives.
NB: 12 ounces is the weight after draining off the brine.
Reserve the brine.
- 1/4-1/3 Cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
NB: This DOES NOT CALL FOR MIRACLE WHIP but you may use another brand of mayo if you must.
- Sriracha to taste – I used about a tablespoon. Your mileage may vary.
- Salt to taste
- Place the drained olives in a food processor.
- Place the cheese in there.
- Put the lid on and pulse until the olives and the cheese are shredded up nice but you want some texture. We’re not going for smooth and creamy here.
- Place everything in a mixing bowl along with the mayo and sriracha.
- Blend with a spoon until everything is covered in the dressing.
- Taste and add salt as needed. At this point, I didn’t think it was tangy enough (because I had no sharp cheese) so I add about 2 tbls of the olive brine and stirred it in.
- Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours at least.
- This will be much better tomorrow.
Spread it on crackers.
Put in on burgers.
Make quesadillas with it.
Grilled Cheese sandwiches are very good with this.