The Pimento Cheese Search is OnPosted: September 26, 2020
After discovering the situation with Palmetto cheese I told Russ I would supply him with homemade. And thus the search for the perfect recipe began. I emailed my Aunt Janie Leigh who always made a great cheese. She quickly got back to me with the ingredients, but no amounts, as pimento cheese is a lot like all southern cooking, a feel.
She told me she used Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, miracle whip, our cousin Lorie’s 14 day pickle juice from the the jar, confectionary sugar and pimentos. Since I am not a lucky recipient of any of Lorie’s 14 day pickles I was going to have to improvise.
Then my cousin Mary weighed in with her mother Flo’s recipe. Since they are my real Palmetto Cousins and I have eaten that Pimento Cheese many a time while rocking on their porch at Pawleys Island I thought her recipe was worth trying. It starts with a pound of Cabot Seriously sharp white cheddar that is grated and let sit until it softened up. Then a tiny jar of pimentos and the liquid in the jar, 1/2 t. Of dry mustard and a teaspoon of spicey brown mustard like Guldens, enough mayonnaise to get it to hold together and some cayenne pepper to taste.
Now those are two totally different tastes in one family. The thing they have in common are the sharpest cheddar cheese you can get. I agree with this. In my opinion Palmetto cheese never used a high enough quality cheese to start.
So with this information at hand I went about making my first test. Russ went to the Teeter for a jar of pimentos and they were totally sold out. I went to fresh market and they did not have exactly the right peppers either. I bought a jar of small Spanish peppers that were roasted and I chopped them in the cuisineart. I also used our favorite English sharp cheddar, called Costal from England. Since the British invented Cheddar, hell it’s named after the town, I always go with their cheese if I have a choice. But in defense of the American ones the southerner use, it was all Southern cooks of the fifties had available to them from their local Piggly Wiggly.
I did not have miracle whip, but know it to be sweet to start so I went with the confectionery sugar route. I did use Duke’s Mayo. Russ likes Jalapeño in his cheese so I minced up a large seeded fresh pepper. I used a little pickle juice from a jar I had in the fridge. I put a little dry mustard in mixed the whole thing up breaking any cheese shreds that might have still existed.
It tastes good, but the heat from the jalapeño had not permeated the cheese yet. I think that letting it marry for a day or two might do the trick. I had a little under a quart when I was done. Russ will go through that in a week and a half and then I might tweak the next recipe based on his feed back. I think a little onion juice might also be good, but since it was not in either of my two most southern family cooks recipes I was not going to veer off right from the start.
The one thing I know is making it myself is much more expensive than the Costco price, but hopefully the higher quality English cheese will make it worth it.