Pimento cheese is more than a spread. It’s a food with a rich history and a scrumptious taste that Southerners adore. Growing up, we’d eat pimento cheese on crackers, on sandwiches, and always when gathered with family and friends. This Easter, I’m highlighting this childhood favorite in a celebratory way–stuffed in my deviled egg filling.
When I teach kids about new foods and dishes that are from different cultures, I love to tell them the story of how that food made it to our modern day tables. In the case of pimento cheese, it all started back in the late 1800’s when expensive imported pimento peppers from Spain and an American Neufchatel cheese from the Northeast was blended with cream to make cream cheese and these two foods were combined to make a delectable spread for tea party sandwiches, enjoyed by affluent families.
Fast forward to the early to mid 1900’s, when Kraft’s cream cheese became an industrialized food standard and pimentos were heavily grown in the South. These fancy sandwiches became a blue collar means to feed factory workers across the country. Even as this Southern spread didn’t technically originate in the South, it’s always been a humble favorite and a part of our historical food identity. If you walk into any Southern home today and you don’t find a container of pimento cheese, ask to see their id’s, cause I’d reckon they do not originally hail from those parts!
Each Easter, I especially enjoy pulling out my mom’s antique deviled egg plate, and I relish the process of making my homemade version of pimento cheese with my husband. We always save some on the side to dunk our crackers in as we work, and we most definitely ensure that those first deviled eggs go directly into our mouths before they get into the family’s–you know, quality control!
I hope you and your family enjoy your own traditions this holiday season, and may my family’s tradition of pimento cheese make your celebratory table just a little richer.
- Eggs, 1 dozen
- Cream cheese, 8 oz
- Cheddar cheese (white, sharp), 8 oz
- Sweet onion (Vidalia), 1/8
- Roasted red bell peppers, 8 oz jar
- Lemon, 1/2
- Mayonnaise, 1/2 cup
- Hot sauce, 1 tsp
- Salt, ½ tsp
- Chives, 1 bunch
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce.
- Place eggs in a deep pot and cover with cold water. Bring up to a simmer. Once you see small bubbles form, set the timer for 11 minutes. Maintain temperature so that the water stays at a low simmer (not a boil).
- Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Cut into smaller pieces.
- Grate cheddar cheese on the big holes of a grater (or buy already grated).
- Take the piece of the onion you’ve cut off (⅛ of a whole onion) and grate it over the small holes of the cheese grater.
- Dice roasted red peppers; reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice from the jar and mix that in when ready to assemble the dip.
- Juice ½ lemon.
- Chop chives and set aside as a garnish for the deviled eggs.
- After the egg timer goes off, remove eggs and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Let cool. Peel eggs, cut into halves and scoop out yellow yolks into a large bowl. Mash yolks with a fork.
- In a food processor or kitchen aid mixer, combine the pimento cheese dip ingredients: roasted bell peppers, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, mayonnaise, grated onion, hot sauce, and a tablespoon of juice from the roasted red pepper jar. Mix until smooth.
- Mix 1-½ cups of the pimento cheese with the egg yolks. Place in a pastry bag or Ziploc bag and push the mixture all the way down to one corner and twist the top of the bag closed.
- Snip off the tip with a pair of scissors. Squeeze out the pimento cheese filling into each half of the eggs. Garnish with chopped chives.