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Better than Pimento Cheese

(post, Amanda Storey)

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I recently posted a status update on my facebook page that stated, "Amanda Storey is making homemade pimento cheese with roasted red bell pepper instead of pimentos."  Little did I know that my post would spark the 17 comments that followed. I should have known. I mean, pimento cheese recipes are important to our families, our culture, and heck... our whole darn world. I totally understand the loyalty towards  pimentos. I get it. But once I tried my pimento cheese with a roasted red bell pepper (thanks to Scott Peacock's suggestion in The Gift of Southern Cooking), I haven't looked back. The roasted red bell pepper gives it a really nice sweetness that pimentos in a jar tend to lack. It also adds a nice texture and color (a mixture of red specks roughly chopped with a tad bit of char) throughout the dish. That being said, I celebrate and welcome any 'ol recipe you prefer (especially the recipe created by your mama). Pimento cheese is some serious business. I think I'm going to skip the debate next time and call my recipe "Better than Pimento Cheese." 

Here's my tried and true recipe. Enjoy! 

First, check out "The Gift of Southern Cooking" by Scott Peacock and Ms. Edna Lewis and read how they roast a red bell pepper. The long and short of how I do it: rub a red bell pepper (stem still on) with olive oil, place in a preheated oven (400 degrees) for 20 or so minutes. You will want to turn the pepper once during the cooking process. You will want the pepper to have some noticeable charring on all sides. Remove pepper from oven and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest/steam for at least 10 minutes. Remove plastic wrap. The outer skin should be easy to pull off at this point-- you just want to peel the outer layer. Remove stem and seeds. Dice pepper into desired thickness for your pimento cheese. 

Now the recipe I use (inspired by many different folks)

2 regular-sized blocks (16 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (use part x-sharp white cheddar and sharp orange cheddar or just use all orange cheddar)
1 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise (or however much you end up needing)
1 chopped roasted red bell pepper (see note above) or you can totally use diced pimentos (found in the olive/pickle section at grocery store)
Cayenne Pepper (I just sprinkle a tad to give it a little kick)

I prefer to grate the cheese on a box grater rather than use a food processor, but that is totally up to you. Add grated cheese to a large bowl. Add mayonnaise and stir until you have a creamy mixture. Don't be afraid to add in more mayo if your mixture is too dry. You want to hear it when you mix it up (You'll know what I mean when you get to stirring.) Add in diced roasted red bell pepper and stir. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Stir again. Cover and refrigerate. It gets even better as the days move on. 

Some adventurous folks have been known to add: garlic, onion, shallots, salt, and a little sugar. Do whatever your little 'ol belly feels (and whatever yo mama says).

Re-posted from Food Revival