Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting It Right

It's that time of year once again, when Yankees (and far too many Southerners, I'm sad to say) butcher the meaning of the word "barbecue." From Memorial Day to Labor Day, barbecue would have an identity crisis, if Yankees have anything to say about it. But fortunately, members of the barbecue clan have a strong sense of self and aren't afraid to assert their identity, though they still need a little help getting the word out. A couple of gentlemen from North Carolina have written a song to help with that, and bless their hearts, if they haven't gotten it all about as right as rain!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Paminna Cheese"

If you grew up in the South, you might have taken a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school, but it was just as likely to have been a pimento ("paminna") cheese. Pimento cheese sandwiches are to the Masters at Augusta what mint juleps are to the Kentucky Derby and strawberries are to Wimbledon. I love pimento cheese and always have. It got me through braces, when my lunches most often consisted of a thermos of cream soup and a pimento cheese sandwich sans crust and cut into bite-sized pieces that I could squish up in my mouth instead of chewing. (Thanks, Mom!)

I occasionally cook lunch for around thirty co-workers, so when the temperature hit the mid-seventies this week and I was on for lunch, I figured the best way to celebrate Spring was to introduce them (mostly mid-westerners and Yankees, with a couple of Brits) to pimento cheese. I served the sandwiches cut into triangles on a big lunch tray.

It was a hit.

Of course.

Pimento Cheese
(enough for about 10 sandwiches)

8 ounces Colby or Colby Jack cheese, fresh grated (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, fresh grated (2 cups)

(Fresh grating is important. Pre-grated cheese has a little bit of a coating that keeps the consistency from coming together. Plus block cheese is cheaper.)
1 cup mayonnaise (Duke's; but outside the South, Hellman's is best)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, undrained
Freshly ground pepper to taste (don't overwhelm it)
Couple of dashes of hot pepper sauce (Texas Pete - we're talking flavor more than heat, here)

Combine mayonnaise, pimentos, lemon juice, mustard, onion, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and hot sauce.

Stir sauce into well-mixed grated cheeses, and serve (though I like it better the next day).

Make sandwiches (I like them with pickles, sweet or dill). Top hamburgers. Fill celery. Spread on crackers. Make grilled-pimento-cheese sandwiches (yum!). Bake it in a small casserole until it's bubbly and browning and serve it with corn chips ("Southern Queso"). Get creative. Whatever you do, enjoy!