13 Ways of Looking at Pimento Cheese
For anyone ignorant of the joys of pimento cheese, I'd encourage you to do a little research by reading Southern Living Executive Food Editor Scott Jones' blog post first. Then check out the Southern Foodways Alliance 2003 Great Pimento Cheese Competition to get a sense of why this stuff generates such enthusiasm south of the Mason-Dixon line. Once educated, come back and we'll have some fun.
Educated? Ok, so here's my story: Last week, I'd made two quarts of pimento cheese for a neighborhood gathering. Even after filling a tower of little finger sandwiches, I still had about a pint left over. How was it going to get consumed? Let's count the ways:
1. Eaten, one spoonful at a time, straight from the refrigerator.
. Spread inside the pocket of a halved pita that was then toasted on a greased cast iron skillet. Pita crisps more readily than other breads, so when I bit in, I got a satisfying crunch followed by a lava-like gush of molten cheese.
3. Scraped onto pretzel sticks for an after-work snack.
4. Mixed with a dash of smoked paprika for a version that was sort of delicious, but also embarrassingly trendy and just, well, wrong.
5. Eaten on a grilled cheese sandwich nuzzled up next to crisp slices of bacon.
6. Made into Pimento Cheese Cheese Straws. I feel like I should cue the dramatic music here, because this was a major innovation for me. After all, pimento cheese is mostly just cheese and mayonnaise — which is primarily fat — and cheese straws are just flour, cheese, and butter — which is also primarily fat. So after mixing a cup of flour into an equal amount of pimento cheese, I rolled out the dough like piecrust, cut it into pencil-thin lengths, then baked the straws at 350˚F for about 16 minutes. They came out of the oven crunchy and flaky, with tiny nubs of browned cheddar and the irresistible flavor of pimientos throughout (which explains why my fingers disobeyed every attempt to stop the plate-to-mouth action).
That's six uses for Pimento Cheese from me, but what else do y'all do with it? Maybe it could be molded into balls and rolled in crushed pecans for a pimento cheese truffle, or used as a topping for grilled tomatoes... I'm sure we could think of at least 13 variations. So come on and share your thoughts — I'd love to hear them!