The spread’s roots are Southern ones, and its blueprint—a blend of shredded Cheddar cheeses, chopped pimentos, mayonnaise—is pretty universal, while the particularities of each recipe are dependent on the maker’s preferences. Some, like the folks at Durham, North Carolina’s beloved spot Parker & Otis’ who wrote the Genius recipe, like a grassy touch of celery salt; I like a few generous dashes of hot sauce in mine; others add some kind of vinegary brine; and at the chain Rise Biscuits and Doughnuts, there’s cream cheese in there, which ups the tang and makes the resulting spread so thick it’s practically mortar. Some leave it chunky; some blitz it to a smooth purée. (Every Southerner has his or her own way of making it, just check out a few of these comments on Parker & Otis’ version.)
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Happily for those not lucky enough to grow up knowing its charms, pimento cheese has found its way to the rest of the country and beyond—or we’ve found our way to it, rather, resulting in many a riff and learning the pleasure of a little pimento cheese washed down with a cold beer.
For your next game day, honor tradition and smear it onto salty, buttery crackers, dip jaunty spears of celery into it, or tuck it between crustless triangles of white bread. Or veer into the unknown: Pack it into an olive or slide a spoonful into an egg coddler. Or take a little inspiration from below (you’re first, baked potato):
Need a little extra guidance?
First things first: You’ll need a recipe! Parker and Otis’ is a great starting point.
For a cheeseball, use this recipe as a guide, starting with pimento cheese and adding a little cream cheese and other seasonings, if you’d like. (Hot sauce would be a great add here.) I’d use about 1/2 cup pimento cheese and 4 ounces cream cheese as your base. Roll it in anything crunchy and salty—pretzels, buttery crackers, breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and parsley...
For biscuits, try this recipe as a guide, stirring in a bit of pimento cheese (try about 3/4 cup) into a slightly lesser amount of buttermilk (3/4 cup again). Dream of the egg sandwiches in your future while you make them.
Cracker time! Keep this recipe handy, and think 1 ½ cups cheddar, 1 ½ cups pimento cheese, and just keep an eye on the dough as you drizzle in oil—it won’t take the full cup.
For baked cheese guidance, use this basic strategy: Spread your pimento cheese out in a small, low baking dish, bake it in an oven between 350 and 400°F so it gets all the cheese very well melted, and then serve with a baguette.