Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minnow Cheese: A Theme and Variations

I really hope that title didn't completely turn you off.  This is really about pimento cheese.  When Will was little, he used to think pimento cheese was "minnow cheese" and wouldn't eat it.  Now, of course, he gobbles it up, as do the rest of us Southerners.

Pimento cheese is a glorious substance that can be used in a multitude of ways.  It's delicious as a sandwich, on cracker, or on top of a burger.  I like to make a grilled cheese with it on occasion.  We L-O-V-E pimento cheese in the South.  In fact, there is a restaurant in Columbia, SC called Rockaways, and they have pimento cheese fries that I die for.  I. Die.  (Rachel Zoe fans out there?)

I wanted to make pimento cheese so that I could make sandwiches for my road trip.  I realize I was traveling by myself and still felt compelled to make two sandwiches.  Just in case, y'know?

Not content with the basic PC, I decided to make two spinoffs as well.  Hence, theme and variations.  Don't get me wrong, I love pimento cheese just about every which way.  But as we learned with the peanut butter brownies, I can't leave well enough alone.

Here we go!

Basic Pimento Cheese

You could easily use just regular cheddar, but I like the look and the taste of the white cheddar mixed in.
Pimientos, Duke's mayonnaise, and black pepper

Just so you know, it's really important you use Duke's mayonnaise.  Just kidding.  Not really.  My taste buds feel that Duke's is far superior to other mayos.  I can't help it.  In fact, my bestie, Kaitlin, and I have arguments on Duke's vs Hellmans.  There's really no contest if you ask me.  The really important thing is not to use Miracle Whip.  I can't even imagine what havoc that would wreak on your PC.

First things first, grate up your cheeses.  I've never used store-bought shredded cheese for my PC, but I imagine it wouldn't be as good.  I've never been able to find extra sharp shredded cheese, and I refuse to use just sharp in this.  It needs that extra sharp bite.
Mmmm, look at that white cheddar.

Lovingly put your cheeses into a big ol' bowl.

You might be left with some cheese nubs.  Don't try to grate them and accidentally grate your finger tips off or you will have finger nubs instead of cheese nubs.  Do yourself a favor and eat them when nobody's looking.

Add in your pimientos.  I used a jar and a half for this amount of cheese.  You're working with about 16 oz. of cheese, so you can adjust the amount according to your tastes.  I do recommend draining the pimientos first if you're using the whole jar.  Otherwise it might get kind of soupy.

Mayo time!  I used a couple of big spoonfuls.  Again, you can adjust the amount according to your tastes.  Add a little at a time because you can always add mayo, but you can't take it away once it's there.

Mix it together and add some cracked black pepper.  Yummmmmm.

That's the basic PC.  But you like a little spice you say?  You want a kick with your pimento cheese?
Try jalapeños!  This is what my grand-daddy added to his PC.

Looks like it's under a microscope, no?  I recommend the pickled kind because I like the vinegar-y taste they give the PC along with the heat.

Chop those suckers up and add them to the basic pimento cheese you already made.

"But wait!" you say. "It's just cheese?  Where's the meat?!"  Actually, my dear friend, April, brought this up to me one day when I offered up some PC.  She's from Delaware, so some of the Southern things didn't make much sense to her.  I give her credit though for her love of Sugarland.

The solution?  Well, it's the solution to life quite frankly.  Bacon.  And parmesan.
Carolina Pride makes tasty bacon.  It does indeed fry crisp without burning.  You could sub in grated parm if you have it in the fridge, but I had a block already in there.

Grate yer parmesan.  I used about 1/4 cup.  Feel free to use more and add it to the basic PC.

Fry yer bacon.  I made three slices, knowing full well I would only use two.   But I lurve bacon so there.

Crisp!  Not burnt!  Carolina Pride tells no lies.  This was actually the piece I ended up eating.  Crumble the other two into your basic PC and parmesan mix.
Good golly, Miss Molly.  I want to eat the screen.  I don't blame you if you do too.  This is a judgement-free zone.
See that big ol' piece of bacon on top?  Nom.

If you need to store your pimento cheese(es), use air-tight containers.
This is about a pound of pimento cheese total.  It'll make 4-5 sandwiches, more if you don't pile it on like I do.  You can also serve it with crackers as a nice appetizer for 4 people.

The moral of the story?  Pimento cheese is like a little black dress.  It's lovely on its own, but it doesn't mind being dressed up a bit either.

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