So I'm reading Time Magazine and there it is in black & white, Adam Rapoport, the new editor of Bon Appétit is predicting that Pimento Cheese will be big in 2011!
Well maybe in NYC they're just discovering this traditional Southern staple, but in my house and in many others, especially in South Carolina and Georgia, this down home traditional folkways cheese spread has always been big. Especially on Ritz Crackers at game time.
Pimento Cheese has many nicknames: PC, Carolina Caviar, Atlanta Paté, and Menta Cheese. In the Old South you cannot have a church social, family picnic, card game, wedding, or any social gathering without Pimento Cheese sandwiches. Kids ask for it with the same frequency as they ask for peanut butter up north. Traditionally it is spread on white bread and that's all. At the country club the crusts are removed, it is cut into four triangles, and served on silver platters. At the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA, they serve PC sandwiches wrapped in green wax paper (hold your pinkies out, please). Even in such classy settings, they spell it pimento, not pimiento, the technically correct spelling.
When I was at the University of Florida in the 1960s, our favorite late nite stoner munchie was Ritz Crackers with PC. On road trips to away games and New Orleans we'd pack a loaf of Wonder Bread and a tub of storebought PC. Any trip through Atlanta would take us to The Varsity where, when we approached the counter they'd shout "What'll ya have!" and we'd joyfully shout back "Pimento Cheeseburger!" Occasionally we'd go wild and order their chili cheesedog with pimento cheese, or their decadent grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese.
In 2003 the Southern Foodways Alliance held a Pimento Cheese essay and recipe contest that drew 300 entries. Click here to see the three finalists.
Whadaya waitin' for? The game's about to start. (GO BEARS!)
Although PC is quick and easy to throw together, it needs a few hours, overnight is best, for the pimento flavor to migrate into the cheese and mayo so every bite has optimal flavor. But don't let it sit around for days. It tends to get watery.
Makes. 8 sandwiches
Production time. 15 minutes
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) bottle pimentos, drained and chopped into 1/4" bits
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 pinches table black pepper
1 pinch table salt
1) Grate the cheese on the big holes of a box grater into a bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors marry.
Optional. Throw the whole daggum thang into the food processor and whup it up until it is fairly smooth as shown in the stuffed tomato above. There will be some fine granular texture. That's OK.
2) Before serving, let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes so it is easier to work with.
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