If you grew up in the south you probably grew up eating pimento cheese. And if you didn't,then I'm about to introduce you to a new addiction. And, yes, this IS a photo of a grilled pimento cheese sandwich with my Cool and Zesty Cukes: 7 Minute Summer in a Jar pickles because you do not have to eat cold pimento cheese on a cracker or a piece of white Bunny bread. That hot pepper on top is reminding me that this was a batch of hot pimento cheese because that's what I was in the mood for and my brother had dropped off a passel of hot peppers from his garden. Well, now, that made me go look up "passel," wondering if it is just a corrupted version of "parcel." Indeed it is, although it doesn't quite fit to exchange the uncorrupted word in this example sentence given by the online dictionary: "The President faces a passel of domestic issues." Hmm, well I know this much: easier to face those issues fortified with a grilled pimento cheese in your hand.
One reason my pimento cheese rarely turns out the same way twice is the variety of cheeses I use to make it. Generally, a good sharp cheddar is the base with other chunks from my cheese bin thrown in. I like to buy small pieces of cheese from the bargain basket at Whole Foods or Fresh Market for this very purpose, but I often have left over ends from cheeses I've recently tried and want to use up. The best balance of flavors is a mix of the cheddar with something nutty and rich like parmesan or pecorino romano or asiago and maybe something smokey like this gouda or even a smoked blue - go easy on strong cheeses though or they'll overpower all the other flavors. Even a little of something sweet like gjetost can make a really interesting mix. You can always tone it down with more cheddar if you make the combo too strong. Now, run it all through the grater of your food processor, or Kitchenaide Mixer grater-attachment like I use, and we'll talk about dressing it up in a minute.
There are two ways to come by a pimento. Near the pickles at your local grocery. Near the peppers at your favorite Farmer's Market in summer. When you see some of these flat little red gems, grab them all! Make a huge batch of pimento cheese to share with your lucky friends or grind all the pimentos at once and save in little freezer bags to parcel out all winter long ("passel" does not work here). There's so much more flavor in the fresh ones, obviously, since they haven't been heated in the canning process. But their season is short and I never see them anywhere the rest of the year, in spite of my habit of roaming groceries and markets, large and small, popular and obscure watching for good things with which to create good eats.
|Smoked Gouda, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Asiago|
|Pimento and Pimento|