Middle-Age Spread

This here Yankee was well into her forties before she tried Pimento Cheese. She is, apparently, making up for lost time.

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I’ve been CSAing with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op for eight years now. This past week was the first time I scored a bag of pimento peppers. Bingo.

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Pimento Cheese Spread

As with pesto, potato salad, hummus, Sunday gravy, and other “home-style” family dishes, you’ll find as many recipes for pimento cheese as you do families. Mine, below, is admittedly not authentically Southern (I don’t demand Duke’s, for instance), but it is mine (I do demand a hit of acidity). Mess around with it and find yours.

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  • 1 dry pint pimento peppers (5-6 small peppers, or about half a pound)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp good mayonnaise
  • pinches of cayenne, smoked paprika, cracked black pepper, salt (to taste)
  • splash of vinegar-based hot sauce or pickle brine (to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp dill or bread and butter pickle, minced (to taste)

 

Rinse and dry the peppers, then blacken them over medium-high heat on a grill (or for 5 minutes or so under the broiler—or even held with tongs over an open flame on your cooktop).

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These 5 smallish peppers yielded about 4 ounces once roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped. You can use jarred pimentos instead–or roasted red bell pepper.

Put the hot peppers into a covered bowl and let them sweat for a bit. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin, slice them open, and scrape out the seeds. Dice up the peppers.

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Put the cream cheese into a large bowl. Stir with a stiff spatula or wooden spoon until it’s well softened. Mix in the mayo, hot sauce, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and salt.

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Add in the shredded cheese; mix well. Fold in the diced pimentos. Taste, and adjust the seasonings. Try to stop tasting. Go ahead. Try.

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Pimento cheese will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to a week. Yeah, right.

 

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