THE BLOG
12/22/2009 02:28 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Pimento Cheese (aka Southern Pâté): The Ultimate Holiday Party Crowd-Pleaser

This is Andrew Knowlton's second post for the Huffington Post. Andrew's blog, The BA Foodist, was nominated for a 2009 James Beard Award.

Dear BA Foodist,

A lot of the hosts of holiday parties I've been invited to this year are requesting I bring a dish. I don't want to take anything fancy or expensive. Any suggestions?
Alison Breyer, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Dear Alison,

You want a crowd-pleaser that's simple and economical. May I introduce you to my childhood friend, pimento cheese (a.k.a. southern pate)? De rigueur at any southern social gathering, pimento cheese (say it like a southerner--pimenocheese) is a mixture of cheese (the sharper the better), mayo, and pimento peppers, which you can buy in little jars. Some folks doctor it up by adding everything from pickle juice to bacon. I'm a purist and so was my grandma, who used to make pimento cheese with a hand-crank grater at the kitchen table. I've included her straightforward recipe here. Trust me, it'll be the hit of your next party.

GRANDMA KNOWLTON'S PIMENTO CHEESE

MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

1 1/2 cups (packed) finely grated extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups (packed) finely grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced drained pimento peppers from jar, roasted red peppers, or piquillo peppers (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Celery sticks
Ritz crackers
Sliced white bread (optional)

Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Mash with fork to blend well. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Serve pimento cheese with celery sticks and Ritz crackers, or, if desired, spread between 2 slices of white bread and cut diagonally to make 4 sandwich triangles.

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