Pimiento cheese is a staple here in the South. True Southern pimiento cheese is not found near the eggs in the grocery store. It is not found pre-made in a tub as many of this generation may think. True Southern pimiento cheese is homemade with a recipe that was passed down from your relatives and evokes memories of your youth.
During the Depression, it became popular as cheese was used as a cheaper source of protein. Around the 1940’s it was used as a filling lunch for mill workers. They could eat the sandwiches without leaving the line. It was the ideal lunch bucket item for the farmers. Southern soda fountains served it on toast. Pimiento cheese was also a high brow dish in the South with tea trays at parties overflowing with crustless bread filled with pimiento cheese and cut into finger sized slices. Southern grandmothers kept a bowl full of pimiento cheese in their refrigerators.
Pimiento cheese is very easy to make. In its simplest form starts with sharp cheddar cheese, pimientos, and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, and then it can vary on what is added from there. Pre-shredded cheese is a no-no! The cheese must be freshly grated…no shortcuts! We like a spicy bite to our pimiento cheese and prefer to add diced jalapenos and cilantro to the mix.
As teenagers and college students, the girls would work markets for Daddy at the Dallas Apparel Mart, which required working long hours showing his clothing lines to stores across the U.S. This pimiento cheese was consumed in large quantities, as in between clients, we would race into the back room to have a pimiento cheese foldover sandwich, which is comprised of a slice of fresh bread slathered with thick pimiento cheese and folded over. Our customers soon caught on and they too would want a sandwich so this pimiento cheese was made and consumed in mass quantities!
2 pounds Sharp Cheddar Cheese, coarsely grated
3 Hard Boiled Eggs, grated
1 large Onion, grated
3 4-ounce jars of Pimientos with juice
2 cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons prepared Mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Optional: 1 finely diced Jalapeno (with seeds) and 1 bunch of chopped Cilantro
First, you will need to prep your ingredients. Boil eggs and allow to cool. Next, grate your cheese, eggs, and onion.
Place cheese, eggs, and onion in a large mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to the bowl.
Thoroughly combine all ingredients. I have made the pimento cheese the spicy way – adding the jalapenos and cilantro to the bowl on the left – and the non-spicy way – leaving out the jalapenos and cilantro to the bowl on the right. The Grandkids aren’t partial to the heat caused by jalapenos but the rest of the family likes the heat!
Chill pimiento cheese thoroughly.
Pimento cheese is great served with fresh bread, on crackers, or with celery.
Here is a photo of the spicy pimiento cheese spread on fresh Rye bread….YUM!
Here is a photo of the “no jalapenos added” pimiento cheese spread on fresh Rye bread….
Try it and you will NEVER go back to store bought Pimiento Cheese!