Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pimiento Cheese, Mama's Way

It never fails to amaze me which of my Facebook posts gets a whole lot of attention, although by now I sense a theme that runs through them all: home/hearth/nostalgia.

Or maybe it's just food.

Last night I posted a picture of the ingredients for a bowl of pimiento cheese I was making as a surprise for my husband. See, my Mama used to be able to get him do her bidding by promising him a making of it. I was sometimes allowed to carry it to my house from hers -- but she would always call to double check that he had actually received it.

He loved my Mama so,and the feeling was more than mutual. They were thick as thieves, the two of them. I think being the only two folks at family gatherings who actually knew what rabbit tobacco was might have had something to do with it. I've told the story before of how I actually brought him home to meet my Mama as the fellow I chose to be my escort for my debutante ball, thinking she would be so put off by his lack of polish that she'd let me get out of following through with it.

It didn't work out quite that way. She fell in love with him right then and there, and in the months that followed, I did, too.
Phantom Host Ball, February 1979

Wedding Day, December 1979

I have gotten off track again.

So. We've made it through nearly a year of missing Mama at all the "firsts." It's usually me who gets quiet and pensive, and needs to take a deep breath, but July 4th it was Henry's turn. They always had a deal about ribs, and Mama'd slip him "a little extra folding money" to make sure he had enough to buy her a good slab of them to throw in his smoker. It wasn't enough that she'd pay for the ribs, there was always a little container of pimiento cheese that would find its way here within a week or two.

This year, my husband really missed my Mama hard. There were no ribs, and there was no pimiento cheese.

Until last night, when I decided to make him some. Yes, it's ridiculously easy, but he never wanted me to make it because that was something he and Mama stayed in cahoots about. I posted the picture on my timeline, and folks seemed to enjoy the picture and the conversation, and one even asked me for the recipe, so heck. Why not?

Mama's No Frills Pimiento Cheese

There are so many fancy versions of this, but my Mama was not given to fancy. What you see up there is everything you need.

An 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar.  (If you buy this preshredded, you will be shot at dawn.)
A good glop of mayonnaise. (That would be between 1/3  - 1/2 cup, depending on the state of your arteries.)
A little jar of diced pimientos (.4 oz is sufficient)
Cayenne pepper

Shred the cheese. Glop the glop of mayo in there and give it a good stir. Always start with a little - you can add, but you can't subtract mayo. If that looks about right toss in the pimientos (DRAIN FIRST!), and just a dash of the cayenne. Again, you can always add more, but once a dish has been over-cayenned there is no going back. 

That's it. The mystery of the South's finest pimiento cheese, revealed.  

Every Southern family has their own variations, so you should feel free to take this basic recipe and change it up, or put Sunday clothes on it, or whatever. Just do not go all low-fat on me. Some things just need what they need, and if you can't eat it that way you oughtn't bother. 

Henry says this was almost as good as Mama's, but I should probably make it again every week or so, just to get it perfect. 

1 comment:

  1. One ingredient not left out but not mentioned: love.