Homemade pimento cheese spread

For the purist, pimento cheese is a blend of shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. For its simplicity, it provides a meaningful window into the working class lives of the Carolinas’ old south. Families living on $28 a week saw homemade pimento cheese sandwiches as the quick (three ingredients) and cheap (often government subsidized) way to get off to work in industries, textiles for example, where there were no formal rest or meal breaks. As the cheese spread traveled into the realm of picnics and garden parties, the purist version gets more cloudy as many of its New South “cousins” present a manufactured fluorescent hue and slimy texture. The oft-quoted North Carolina author Reynolds Price calls many tubbed brands, “congealed insecticides.”

Another Durham-based oft-referenced food author and chef, Sara Foster, offers the three-ingredient pimento cheese with a few added twists: cream cheese, apple cider vinegar and honey. For my version, shared here, I add yet another two ingredients as I like my cheese spreads, if not savory, to at least have a little kick. 

Manna Cabanna Pimento Cheese Spread (Yields 4 cups)

Ingredients:

8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated. (avoid pre-grated, it’s too dry)

¼ c. softened cream cheese (2 oz.) pulled into several pieces

½ c. jarred pimento or other roasted peppers, finely diced

3 T. Duke’s Mayonnaise

1 T. Apple Cider Vinegar

1 T. Honey

Pinch of dried chile flakes and pinch of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer. Scatter the cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and remaining ingredients over the cheddar cheese. Using a mixing paddle or spatula, mix until smooth and spreadable, about 1½ minutes.

2. Transfer the pimento cheese into a glass container or bowl, cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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