I'm pretty sure in the south it's a sin to change your grandmother's pimento cheese recipe. This is especially true when your grandmother is like mine and incredibly particular about the way she makes pimento cheese. She uses Duke's Mayonnaise, Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar Cheese and diced pimentos. In her world, don't even think about subbing in Hellmann's or low-fat mayo. She also would never understand why someone would use another cheese when Cracker Barrel is so delicious.
So, it is with slight shame that I offer my sincerest apologies to my grandmother...I altered the family recipe.
In an attempt to keep the most important elements of the recipe I still use the Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar, Duke's and pimentos. I see no reason to change that since I, too, seem to be very particular about my pimento cheese ingredients. I just enhanced the original recipe a bit by adding sharp white cheddar, cream cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper. Cream cheese adds a level of creaminess (shockingly) that makes it even more wonderful with crackers or grilled on sandwiches. You don't need too much since the mayo is also in there, but even a little bit makes a noticeable difference in flavor. I've used the plain and cracked pepper sharp white cheddar varieties. If you like pepper you will love the cracked pepper, but you can go ahead and omit the extra that is in the original recipe. The cayenne gives it an extra little kick to complement the creaminess of the cheeses.
For those of you not from the south, you may think adding mayo to shredded cheese is disgusting. My brother and I don't like mayonnaise on its own, and my grandmother once compared that to not liking cheese (not at all comparable). I still don't like mayo by itself, but I do like mayo and cheese. How's that for compromise?
This is top notch pimento cheese. You will probably have to pry yourself away from it. I can't count the times that I've finished off a batch of pimento cheese with a few friends only to then have it sink in that there are two whole blocks of cheese in there. Whoops. I've also included this recipe in my Breakfast Sandwiches post, but I felt it deserved its own space here.
Homemade Pimento CheeseMakes a full serving, feel free to cut this amount in half
2 8-ounce blocks Cracker Barrel Cheese, one Sharp White Cheddar, one Sharp Cheddar, grated
2 heaping tablespoons diced pimentos (not sliced!)
1 to 2 ounces cream cheese, softened*
1/2 cup Duke's mayo
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Grate the sharp white cheddar and sharp yellow cheddar cheeses together in a bowl. Do not buy pre-grated cheese, as these cheeses come with a waxy coating on the outside and will not melt as well (or taste as good). Throw remaining ingredients into bowl, and blend gently with a spatula, forks, spoons, or whatever you have on hand until completely incorporated. Store in the refrigerator, and remove at least 15 minutes before you are ready to serve. Pimento cheese is delicious on crackers, veggies, burgers, sandwiches, pretzels, etc. (yes, basically everything).
*Adjust amount of cream cheese and mayonnaise to suit your personal preference. If you prefer a creamier and tangier cheese use slighly less mayo and 2 ounces cream cheese.