Monday, February 1, 2010

Lazy Pimento Cheese

What food made you realize you'd grown up? Spinach? Black eyed peas? Chicken a-la-king? Which dish was the one that your mom would spend the entire meal trying to make you eat, only to meet your firmly clamped teeth, but five, ten, fifteen years down the road you realize hey, this stuff is pretty good?

I remember Cha-Cha trying to make me eat blackeyed peas. She finally managed it by carving the top out of a piece of cornbread and saying they were the eggs in a nest. I probably only ate a total of 10 peas, but that kind of creativity was entirely too much for a five year old to ignore.

Mike still doesn't like pimento cheese and probably never will, but I surprised myself the other day with a craving. It was a warm, beautiful springlike day outside, and my mind went directly to pimento cheese. Blech. Where did that come from? When I was a kid, I would have sooner had a mayonnaise sandwich than pimento cheese (blech). Even in my mind I would think of it not as simply "pimento cheese," but "pimento cheese blech."

What the hell is a pimento, anyway? As a kid I probably didn't like pimento cheese (blech) because it didn't taste like olives. Because after all, green olives are the only known source of pimentos, aren't they? Except for the Wal-mart brand, which replaced its pimentos with some red gelatinous substance that made me think of jelly beans. Hmm. Pimento-flavored jelly beans. Sounds like a case for Bertie Bott.

But I digress.

I did like my cousin Cliff's mama's pimento cheese, but he told me the recipe when I was tipsy, so there's no hope of my remembering it. So I bought 16 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Hey, if this was going to be an off-the-top-of-my-head recipe for something I didn't even think I liked, I wasn't going to put an awful lot of effort into it.

16 ounces sharp cheddar. Dumped into a bowl.

Ok. Now what? Pimentos! Took a 4-ounce can and dumped that on top of the cheese.

Pimentos and cheese. Need something to keep them together. What would Mom have used....

Mayonnaise! I added about half a cup. You could probably go lower-fat and use sour cream, but really. It's cheese. There isn't that much help for it.

At this point I stuck my head in the bowl and smelled to see what else it needed. I added a dash of garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Then I added a few dashes of black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco.

And I stirred it all up.

But it was missing something to make it my own dish. So I gave it 4 or 5 liberal dashes of my favorite, Cheyenne pepper. And there you have it. Fran's pimento cheese.

Oh, and the green beans? They're green bean chips from the Fresh Market. Asher mentioned them the other day, and I had to find out what all the fuss was about. They're delicious!


Katy Agnew said...

You forgot the finely grated onion! That's what Caroline uses to make it so good... There. The secret ingredient is out. :)

Anonymous said...

Us least the ones in BC...are unfamiliar with pimento cheese...but let me tell you, I'll be trying it cause it sounds GOOOOOOOOD!! :-)


Made by Lena