Hint: They’re super easy.
From the shelf dedicated solely to stacked jars of Lindsay brand diced pimentos at the Piggly Wiggly to the array of tubbed, pre-made varieties that rivals the hummus selection at Whole Foods, there is no shortage of evidence on the importance of pimento cheese to be found in the South. In addition, how a Southerner prepares their particular recipe is akin to an artist statement or a family crest.
That’s why we hesitate to provide too much advice or direction on pimento cheese making unless it is indeed warranted and worthy of consideration. Y’all got this. But these two pieces proved so revelatory and, yet, so achievable, we deemed them deserving of sharing. Although, we wait the ensuing debate and drama.
1. Use roasted red peppers instead of diced pimentos
This is a tip we picked up from Josh Yates, owner of Savannah’s beloved burger joint Green Truck Pub, and haven’t looked back since. While not adding traditional pimento peppers to its namesake cheese might feel like making banana pudding without bananas or listening to an instrumental Dolly Parton album, marinated roasted peppers (Red Bell or Piquillo) will add texture and twang that no limpid square of pimento ever could. At the store, look for a brand that adds more than just sea salt to their brine. Keywords: garlic, mustard seed, or red wine vinegar.
2. Use two different grates on your cheese
You already know that using pre-shredded cheese goes against the core tenets of Southern cooking. Texture is key with pimento cheese, and while some add cream cheese to get it super smooth and others want it one step removed from deconstructed, we prefer something in between. That’s why we grate half of the sharp cheddar finely and the rest coarsely. The finer-grated cheese will help the mayonnaise bind the other ingredients, while the courser-grate cheese will help the final product have body and a less-monotonous taste.