Pimento Cheese — Get a little nontraditional with the ‘Caviar of the South’

Chef Babz Goldman
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My first, and favorite, concert was Willie Nelson at the Mason County Fieldhouse. It was the summer of 1990 and my family had just moved back to Maysville. I was turning nine and don’t know if I had ever listened to Willie before. But all of that changed when my grandmother, Nan-Nan heard about the show. Although she wasn’t much of a country music fan, she assured me this was something I couldn’t miss. I had no idea.

Nan-Nan, made us pimento cheese sandwiches before the show. She said we needed to eat, but nothing heavy before the show, it was gonna be hot. I had no idea.

It was just her and me that night, and what seemed to be a few thousand women. Sure there were some fellas there that night, but I had never seen women go nuts over anybody like they did for Willie Nelson. Screaming and yelling, unmentionable clothing items were thrown at the stage repeatedly, never quite making their way to the star. Some of the calmer fans purchased roses in the Fieldhouse lobby and placed on the stage, or tossed them towards the microphone. A few special fans were lucky enough to go home with red bandanas Willie would take off of his sweaty forehead and throw out in the crowd.

Of the many recipes, tips, and suggestions my news column has offered readers, I have not had any other recipe come close to the many times I have received request for my grandmothers pimento cheese recipe. The recipe was printed once before, shortly after Nan-Nans death. Readers and family members continue to call me, text me, and update me on their adventures in the world of pimento cheese. In addition to paying homage to Nan-Nan, I have been thoroughly impressed and touched by some of their fantastic ideas and ways to eat the “Caviar of the South.”

Basic Pimento Cheese has a few standard ingredients, but no two recipes are alike. Variations can be found all over the world, but no region or culture spreads pimento cheese quite like the south. Nan-Nan avoided using artificial ingredients. She preferred good creamy Amish cheddar and Colby cheese and it made all the difference. Everyone has an opinion on their favorite variation of the basic ingredients. Some prefer smooth, while others chunky. Some folks only like it spicy and insist on peppers or hot sauce. Others love a traditional yellow cheese dish while some swear by the white cheese variation. There are versions I have wanted to spit out, and others I simply couldn’t get enough of.

I’m typing today with Mr.Nelson gently singing in my ear, taping my foot to the beat, and eating a pimento sandwich. Today’s column includes my grandmother’s

recipe, as she gave it out to many family and friends in addition to a few ideas for different ways to eat this traditional treat, non traditionally.

Good luck and enjoy!

Punch Up Your Pimento Cheese Game:

-Replace taco cheese with pimento cheese.

-Add a little bit of beer and make it pimento beer cheese.

-Remember, pimentos are peppers, add some spicy peppers or eat as a dip with peppers.

-Serve on toast with grilled tomatoes or even peppers and peaches.

-Make philo dough mini pouches and bake.

-Serve with toasted pita and cucumber slices, in addition to celery.

-Top over nachos instead of regular cheese.

-Avoid using artificial cheese like Velveta.

-Blend til smooth and creamy, it will melt even better on hot stuff.

-Top on pizza.

Southern Pimento Cheese

By Louise Osborne

(Colby and Cheddar cheese are used when making the traditional yellow dish. Swiss or sharp variations

are also recommended for white cheese versions of the dish.)

2 pounds of cheese, shredded

4 ounces can of pimento, finely chopped and including juice

1/3 cup sugar

2 1⁄2 tablespoon vinegar

1 1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

Mix (in food processor) and taste. It may need more sugar or vinegar depending on preference.

The recipe and photo used in todays article are from the kitchen of Chef Babz ([email protected])

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Chef Babz Goldman