Friday, April 27, 2012

Favorite Favorites: Pimento Cheese and Strawberry Jam

Way back when I was in youth group, we played some kind of game that required us to choose the one food we would be happy eating the rest of our lives.  I don't remember the point of the game, but I do remember my answer: pimento cheese.  Back in those days, I was eating the spread on white bread sandwiches.  Since then, more wonderful things have happened.

First, homemade pimento cheese.  My grandmother and mother and aunts all make homemade pimento cheese, but for some reason, I had never tried it myself until recently.  It is ridiculously easy.  Although there are many different versions of the recipe, this is the one my mother taught me:

1 (8 oz.) block sharp cheddar (grated)
1 (8 oz.) block mild cheddar (grated)
1 (4 oz.) jar diced pimentos (drained)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix the grated cheese and pimentos with enough mayonnaise until it becomes a thick, creamy spread.  Add in the Worcestershire sauce and pepper (freshly ground is particularly good).  Momma recommends grating the sharp cheddar with one size of holes on the grater and the mild cheddar with a different size, just to make the texture more interesting.

Then, my brother-in-law introduced us to grilled pimento cheese.  Again, this is so obviously good that I can't believe I hadn't tried it before.  The crisp buttery bread, the melty cheese.  Mmmmm.  However, the February 2012 issue of Southern Living took it a step further by adding bacon to the grilled pimento cheese and suggesting serving with strawberry jam--what?  Strawberry jam?  Let me tell you, it is unreal.  Jordan is not a fan, but then, he generally doesn't like sauces and condiments--such a purist.  For me, however, a thin slather of strawberry jam on top of a grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwich is amazing.  I have always been a big fan of cheese-and-fruit eaten together, so this is tops.

It is especially good with the year's crop of strawberry freezer jam.  We picked two bucket-fulls not long ago, and I made enough jam to fill up a dozen half-pint jars (one of which went to work with Jordan and disappeared inside of four days!)  Here is my previous post on freezer-jam making.

But, the pimento cheese and strawberry jam goodness does not end there.  Also in the February Southern Living was a recipe for pimento cheese rolls.  Super easy, very tasty.

Pimento cheese seems to be a very personalized food.  Any other variations out there that are your favorites?

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