My third book, Southern Snacks: 77 Recipes for Small Bites with Big Flavors was released this week, and its made me a little nostalgic, so here’s a throwback from my first book Pimento Cheese The Cookbook. It’s hard to choose favorite recipes from each book, but this is certainly at the top of my list. I think pimento cheese is the most iconic Southern snack, and I promise it appears in the new book as well!
As a born and raised Memphis girl, my blood runs part barbecue sauce. So any exploration of Southern foodways for me is likely to loop back around to barbecue. But with the finest barbecue to be had five minutes away in every direction, I have never seen the point of smoking my own pig. I do have my own house barbecue spice that I use on everything from pork chops to popcorn. And of course, pimento cheese.
Barbecue Pimento Cheese
1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
8 ounces sharp orange cheddar cheese
8 ounces naturally smoked orange cheddar cheese
4 green onions, white and some green parts, finely diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
Mix all the spices together until thoroughly blended.
Grate the cheeses together into a large bowl and toss together to combine. Add the green onions and toss again. I find my clean, dry hands the best tool for this. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with 2 Tablespoons of the spice mix and stir until completely incorporated. Stir the mayonnaise into the cheese mixture until everything is well blended and all the cheese is coated. Stir in the pimentos until they are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
Chill the pimento cheese, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes 3 ½ cups
There will be some spice blend leftover. Keep it in an airtight container and sprinkle it over hamburgers, steak or, my favorite, popcorn.