Pimento Cheese: My favorite Cheesy Southern Snack Indulgence

Feb 24 2014

by Forrest Hedden


Pimento Cheese is probably one of the most outstandingly Southern dishes that is sort of unknown in other parts of the country. It’s fame has been spread by the Lee Brothers and other evangelists of Southern cuisine but to some extent it’s still the lesser known outside of the South than other better known dishes. Some folks would consider it as iconic as deviled eggs and Fried Chicken and it certainly has it’s own camps of people who debate what goes into it. But regardless no one would debate that it is definitely up there are something that one should know how to make as a Southern cook.

I grew up around pimento cheese which is sometimes referred to as the “Caviar of the South” or “House Pate”. It’s at it’s best a delicious concoction of simple ingredients which somehow when taken together are amazing. It’s a version of a fortified cheese, or Formage Forte, a French concoction created as a way to use up odd bits of cheese. Formage Forte uses wine and other flavor elements to make a spread that can be served with bread or crackers. Pimento Cheese uses Mayo and A Spanish red pepper and spices to really create a spread which actually is more than just a spread and can be used in sandwiches and other cooked foods using cheese as an ingredient such as grits or casseroles. While there is debate as to what goes into it like “is there more than cheddar cheese?” “is there sour cream?” And also “is there green onion or grated white onion or is it just onion powder?”. I think almost everyone can agree that no matter how it’s made it’s mostly just delicious.

So many Southerner’s I know, who cook, have a story like this one. When I was first living in New York City as an actor, my roommate at the time and I threw a cocktail party. And since we didn’t have any real money for fancy foods for the some 20 people we had invited, I decided to make a bunch of pimento cheese sandwiches. I made them on white bread and cut off the crusts to be fancy and the cut the sandwiches in 4’s to make little “tea” sandwiches. I made a lot of them. And that with bowls of potato chips and onion dip was the food. Don’t you know every single one of those sandwiches disappeared. They were really a hit.

Now when I make pimento cheese I make sure that I have extra because without a doubt it will be the first thing to go. Now my recipe has changed many times over the years. I mean sometimes Pimento cheese is just that dip you make with whatever cheese you have on hand. And sometimes you change the rules up. For instance I never put cream cheese in mine before a friend made me her recipe, now I do. And I add little things into mine now that I think really ramp up the flavor and the texture. Recently I was at Husk Restaurant in Charleston and has their pimento cheese appetizer in in the bar,

wow was it good, really good! They used fancy peppers and jalapenos, smoked paprika and local cheese. I still use the Spanish pimentos from the jar but my my my….I think that’s what’s so good. So take a minute and check this out and if you want to try this for your next party you can be a hit if you put this on your menu. Hope Ya’ll enjoy!

Forrest’s Pimento Cheese Recipe

1 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp Yellow Cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Jack cheese

7 ounces room temperature cream cheese

1/2 cup Dukes Mayonaise

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 good shakes of Worchestershire Sauce

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons jarred jalapeno pepper slices minced

1 4 ounce jar pimentos drained and diced and 2 tablespoons of juice reserved

1 tablespoon of pickle juice

S&P to taste

Basically place everything in a big bowl and mix mix mix till combined. Chill about and hour before serving.

Here’s a little video for your viewing pleasure



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