Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Pimento Cheese Paradise

Posted March 10, 2010 10:03 a.m. EST

Please excuse my arrogance but I will state up front that I am a pimento cheese snob. I grew up on homemade pimento cheese in Morganton. It was my favorite food as a child. I called it “min-uh-ma” cheese before I could say it correctly. I’ve eaten it on celery, crackers and pumpernickel bread. I’ve grilled it in sour dough sandwiches and splashed it on nachos. Once in college I ate five pimento cheese sandwiches during a single lunch. I’ve had to cut back obviously to protect my girlish figure. But pimento cheese is one thing I dearly love.

This week on WRAL’s Local Dish Brian Shrader and the Ag Department’s Lisa Prince will unveil a pimento cheese recipe. I haven’t seen it yet but I wanted to get the discussion going now.

What restaurant serves the best pimento cheese? What company makes the best pimento cheese? Please offer your opinions.

Here are my rules. Pimento cheese should never be sweet. Some people like Miracle Whip and that’s fine but it should NEVER be included in a pimento cheese recipe. Pimento cheese deserves only Duke’s Mayonnaise as its base. Sharp cheddar cheese is a must.

The Fresh Market makes fantastic pimento cheese. Other than my mother’s recipe it is my all-time favorite. You can buy it in their stores. My good buddy Bob Inskeep really likes Stan’s pimento cheese. I do as well. I love the peppery pimento flavor in Stan’s. Most of the other stuff in stores I cannot stomach.

Southern Living has a wonderful pimento cheese recipe:

Pimiento Cheese
Makes 4 cups
Prep: 15 min.
11/2 cups mayonnaise
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. finely grated onion
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (8-o.z) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheeses. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Paula Deen uses cream cheese in her pimento cheese recipe and an equal amount of Monterey Jack cheese to blend with the sharp cheddar. What about you? What’s your recipe? Please share.