I have two daughters, and one of them is stubborn. I mean, I guess, all kids are stubborn, but this one is, like, super-hyper-stubborn and won’t do a thing unless she wants to or is bribed sufficiently. Anyway, it is that great time of year where the kids don’t have to wear their heavy winter jackets, which is great because it’s so much harder to buckle them into their car seats when they’re in the jackets. They get to wear their spring jackets.
Except that the stubborn child won’t, for the sensible reason that her spring jacket doesn’t fit her anymore. (Genetics, shall we say, have not smiled on the stubborn child.) She insists on wearing the bulky winter jacket. Under normal circumstances, this means that we put up with a somewhat elevated level of whining. But these are not normal circumstances, or so my wife told me.
“Since I have that bridal shower to go to on Sunday,” she said, “why don’t I take the children to the outlet mall on Saturday? That’ll give you a little down time.”
I should have made a bit of mental calculus at this point. I could use that time to mulch. To build the shelves in the garage. To put together that little table for the paper recycling. To put my next mosaic project together. To promote my novels. But I did none of these things, because that Saturday just happened to be Masters Saturday. Time to make the pimento cheese.
YOUR DELICIOUS PIMENTO CHEESE RECIPE
- Start with the realization that pimento cheese is by-God unhealthy for you, and you shouldn’t eat it, ever, except during Masters weekend, when you have to watch golf anyway. I am going to watch the Masters the way that I typically do, by listening to my children proclaim that “golf is so boring.” Relax, will you?
- Setting that aside. Yes. Pimento cheese is unhealthy. Sitting in front of a television set all afternoon is unhealthy. But if you limit your pimento cheese intake to one day a year, and your daytime TV-watching to the Masters and the NFL on fall Sundays and the occasional baseball game, you can handle it. I don’t recommend it, mind you, but it can be done.
- You want to start with a bag of grated sharp cheddar cheese from the supermarket. Yes, of course, there are better cheeses out there. Of course there are. But don’t waste them on pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is Southern prole food of the highest order, right up there with Beanie Weenies and Cool Ranch Doritos. Anyone who puts fancy cheese into pimento cheese is a fool and a poser and you can write that down in your datebook and sign my name to it. Use the cheapest cheese you can find.
- Open the sad little plastic envelope and decant as much of that cheap, sorry cheese as you think you can stomach into a bowl. Then drain a little glass jar of pimentos and pour the pimentos right on top. (That’s how they come, the pimentos, in a little glass jar.) Make sure you drain them, or your pimento cheese will turn out runny, and nobody wants that.
- Take an equivalent amount of Heinz India relish, drain it, and pour that on top, too. If all you have is sweet pickle relish, that’s fine, just make sure it’s drained.
- I actually made my own relish this year, and I am a better person for it. I took a jar of bread-and-butter pickles and a jar of homemade sweet jalapenos and put them in the blender with some chopped garlic and it came out yummy.
- Ideally, in a perfect world, you will have some Miracle Whip hanging around in your sad little condiment rack in your refrigerator. Put a good bit of that in, maybe like a cup or so, who knows? Pimento cheese isn’t really about measuring stuff. If you don’t have that, use Sandwich Spread. If you don’t have either, you can use mayo in a pinch, but don’t mess around with stuff like gourmet wasabi mayonnaise or anything like that. Be sensible.
- I tried one element from this Garden & Gun recipe and put in some whipped cream cheese. It wasn’t bad!
- If you don’t have Miracle Whip or a reasonable substitute, don’t go to the store, because you might miss Rory McElroy hitting the ball into the pine straw, and if there is anything better than watching a really good golfer hitting a really bad shot and landing it in an awkward location, I don’t know what it is. Schadenfreude isn’t the half of it. Anyway, you probably have other creamy salad dressings in your fridge. Use that. Start with ranch dressing and work your way down. You don’t want to overwhelm the pimentos or the cruddy cheese with a lot of blue cheese or peppercorn flavor. Use what you have but don’t overdo it.
- Mix it all up with a wooden spoon. If your mixture is too thick — if it splinters an ordinary Ruffles chip — then put in a little more mayo or dressing. If it is too runny, put in MOAR CHEESE. You’re a grownup. You figure it out.
- I went to a fancy-schmancy place in Decatur, Georgia once that served this awesome grilled pimento-cheese sandwich. If you have time, sure, go ahead. Give it a shot. It can’t be any worse than starving to death. But I think it works better as a dip, with strong reinforced ridged potato chips, and a cold Coke or sweet iced tea to drink.
Of course, you don’t have to watch The Masters this way. You can schlep to Augusta if you want to imperil your offspring’s chances of going to a decent college. You can go to Buffalo Wild Wings and eat tepid chicken parts in a sticky sauce with overpriced beer. You can watch it on your iPad while running on a treadmill, drinking a wheatgrass smoothie that will delay your inevitable death by twelve minutes. I am going to sit on my luxurious, super-model approved piece of leather furniture, with a big bowl of artery-clogging pimento cheese and greasy, factory-made potato chips and a sugary beverage, listening to Jim Nantz whispering about the sentimental glories of golfing achievement. At least until my wife tells me she needs me to go out in the garage and put the recycling together.
NOTES REGARDING PIMENTO CHEESE
- Wright Thompson wrote a piece for ESPN about three years ago about the “secret ingredient” for pimento cheese sandwiches. To this day, the secret has not yet been revealed. I am furious.
- You can put chopped hard-boiled egg in your pimento cheese if you want to. I do not want to. I do not eat eggs, and hard-boiled eggs make me physically ill. (This is my own personal cross to bear.)
- The guy who used to write the Deadspin food column did a pimento cheese recipe one year that told you not to use pimentos. I used to spend a lot of time criticizing him for being a dumb-ass about things like putting beans in chili, and he asked me to stop, and, okay, I guess, but it is still foolish and wrong to say that you shouldn’t put pimentos in pimento cheese.
- Having said that, Burneko is right about the rooster sauce. I put rooster sauce in it last year, and it was fine. (I am only allowed to put in rooster sauce on the things that I alone eat in my house.) I put Frank’s Hot Sauce in it this year, for variety. It was fine.
- I am also totally trying these pimento cheese biscuits.
Note: A previous version of this post appeared on my website, which has been destroyed by the ravages of time. A backup version is still available on Quora, which won’t let me delete it, so there you go.