Friday, April 25, 2014

Pimento Cheese Hierarchy

From the amazing Thesis by Emily Wallace quoting Remembering Bill Neal....
"Neal served pimento cheese with crackers as an appetizer on the menu at Crook’s Corner. Of that item, he wrote, “Pimento cheese is the pâté of the South, a moveable feast that goes to picnics, 
football games, and beach weekends. A grilled pimento cheese sandwich is a Southern 
drugstore classic that evokes as much debate as the topics of jambalaya and juleps. 
Everyone is fiercely loyal to one version or another; this one pleases the patrons of 
Crook’s Corner." 

The first time I had Pimento Cheese was in  my sister-in-law's family home in Winchester, Kentucky in 1996. We were up there for Wedding meetings and her friend Andrea looked at me and said, just eat it. I was perplexed by grated cheese and mayonnaise on 2 slices of white bread but IT.WAS.HEAVEN. (This could be coupled with the fact that I was chasing it down with an ice cold Ale-8.)

Fast forward a few years and the Fresh Market in Asheville started carrying two flavors (Jalapeno and Regular) in their outstanding appetizer/side dish case. We became fast fans of the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese and it was permanently added to the Boylan repertoire of hors d'oeuvres at parties and tailgates. I wrote about our Fresh Market obsession last year HERE.

One year while at Pawleys Island we noticed something called Palmetto Cheese at the cute gas station market at the corner of 17 and the South Causeway (This little market is no longer). Well being the traditionalists we were we didn't get it. We actually had 3 TUBS of our tried and true Fresh Market Pimento Cheese in a cooler that we traveled with so why change? Two days later a few friends stopped by the beach house and brought some of this "Palmetto Cheese" with them and we were done for. It has been our favorite ever since. Again the Jalapeno is our favorite flavor but the Bacon is something worth trying!

The last lucky dairy contender is the white cheddar pimento cheese that my sister in law found at Kroger of all places. She tweaked the recipe but it is delicious if you want something a tad different!
White Cheddar Pimento Cheese
-Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
-Jar of Pimentos
-Shred the cheese, wash the pimentos (so the cheese doesn't turn orange) and mix in mayo. Tada. It is that simple. Mayo/Cheese ratio is up to you. I have heard you could add a dash of Worcestershire to spice things up but don't trust me...I add that to everything.

Local Runner Ups:

I tried this once at the Southern Women's Christmas Show (yes, I'm crazy and attend it) and I thought it was quite good. I always opt for Palmetto or Fresh Market but maybe I should give this local gal a chance again.

 I think I sampled this in the Teeter but don't remember my reaction. Anybody a fan? Did you know the founder went to dental school at UNC and was the Ram mascot!

I love their Gooey PC Sandwich on a cold day with tomato soup. I haven't even been to the Tupelo here in Charlotte yet! Since Asheville opened their South location it has been much easier to hit them up for my favorites when in town. Can't say I have ever bought it packaged though.

Never tried Callie's but I do love her biscuits. 

Do you have a favorite? A secret family recipe? A crazy food you add it to? (That ham and pimento cheese looks out of this world)
NPR did a great story on Pimento Cheese HERE
Emily Wallace (who I do not know) wrote a BRILLIANT Thesis on Pimento Cheese HERE. Read it. I read the whole dang thing.

photo via John Auken via Garden and Gun April/May 2010
And of course my Southern favorite Garden and Gun wrote about it HERE.


  1. Harris Teeter makes a damn fine jalapeno PC, and if I'm not mistaken, may even carry the Palmetto cheese. LOVE this stuff! I've always wanted to try to make my own, but then I decide it will probably be like fried chicken and baked beans - why bother when restaurants and Bush's can do it so well? And then I make a drink.

  2. I adore pimento cheese. Costco also carries Palmetto Cheese in NC and SC. It is cheaper than at the grocery store for the same size. Harris Teeter also has a White Cheddar pimento cheese in their dairy section that is really creamy. Speaking of dips have you tried Big T's Coastal Crab dip? It is my new go to.

  3. This is such a random first time to comment but I was just introduced to a new pimento cheese last weekend - Jim 'N' Nick's! Who knew?! I swear it is every bit as good as Palmetto Cheese. That's hard to say too because my husband wrote a story on PC and how it was founded back when he was with Charleston Magazine. Love your blog - such a fun mix of topics. Cheers!

  4. I live for Palmetto Cheese. I don't know how they can make it so GOOD! When making it myself (if I run out of Palmetto) I use Southern Living's recipe that calls for pecans, red pepper, and Worcestershire. It's my second favorite. BUT - if you are ever in Columbia (or at the Masters), you have to go to DiPrato's. Diane makes such amazing pimento cheese that I could shed a tear over it. It's been at the Masters the past few years and recently a few specialty shops around Columbia have started carrying it. DiPrato's also has a menu and deli case that is worth a trip to Columbia alone - which is saying something for this Clemson grad and fan.