Whenever Verba has the urge, she will make a huge bowl of the best pimiento cheese you have ever tasted. Little drugstore lunch counters throughout the South inevitably include pimiento cheese sandwiches on their menus as an economical option. But the cheese is usually the commercially prepared variety, of indifferent quality. Making your own, as Verba does, with lots of charred roasted peppers, gives the spread a whole new life. It is perfect for a light sandwich or as a down-home dip for crudités and crackers.
1 pound sharp yellow cheddar
1/4 pound cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise or best-quality commercial mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
Splash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholulu
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Grind the cheddar in a food processor fitted with the grating disk, or grate it on the small-holed side of a hand grater.
2. Transfer the grated cheese to a bowl, add the cream cheese, white pepper, bell peppers, mayonnaise, sugar, hot sauce, and cayenne, if using, and blend all together thoroughly.
3. Refrigerate and serve chilled. (The spread will keep for several days in the refrigerator, but it usually disappears long before than.)
Frank Stitt's Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill (Artisan, 2004). © 2004 by Frank Stitt.
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