Chris Bryant's Pimento Cheese
All this fuss over pimento cheese of late! Used to be that we (speaking here for all Southerners) had to explain pimento cheese to those unfortunates who didn’t grow up with the refined delicacy. “No, it’s not cheese from pimentos. It’s cheese WITH pimentos.” Nowadays adoration for our esteemed spread has spread (ahem) beyond its home range.
This is Chris Bryant’s recipe for pimento cheese. Chris is one of our local food enthusiasts totally devoted to Barkley’s Mill heirloom grits. He says his family expects celery stuffed with this pimento cheese at family gatherings. His formula for pimento and cheese is tangy and spicy and full of attitude. It's also the star ingredient in Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé.
Makes 2 cups | Preparation time: 15 minutes
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) cream cheese
- ¼ cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s Mayonnaise
- 2–3 teaspoons finely minced jalapeno (or to taste), seeds removed
- 2–3 teaspoons finely minced onion or shallot
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed, crushed between fingers
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces (2 cups) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese—white or orange
- ⅔ cup (5 ounces) drained and diced pimentos or roasted red peppers
In a mixing bowl using a sturdy spatula, cream together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, jalapeño, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt, dry mustard, black pepper, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes, if using.
Add the cheddar cheese and pimentos and blend until the grated cheese begins to break up and the cream cheese takes on an orange tone. An electric hand mixer is helpful, but don't use a food processor.
If the batch is slated for Pimento Cheese Grits Soufflé, you’re ready to go. If your end goal is simply to have pimento cheese for pimento cheese’s sake, let the spread sit a spell. An hour in the fridge is enough to set the texture and mingle the flavors, but the big reward comes after a few hours—or overnight.
Pimento Cheese will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.