MUSIC PAIRING: Zac Brown Band, Uncaged
There are certain foods from my childhood that made me want to run and hide. I’m sure we all share that sentiment. My father would eat anything so he’d often “volunteer to do the grocery shopping” which was really just code for I’m gonna head up to the store and eat all the free samples before coming home with sale items that I’d never normally buy. He would get the strangest stuff and then expect that three kids would happily eat it. I still remember this weird container of “beer cheese” that was a mysterious orange and purple color. Swirled. He’d eat it with pretzels. Sometimes, I would just stare at him wondering if aliens truly do walk the earth.
One of the other creepy orange substances he’d buy was pimiento cheese. Unfortunately for me, Mom liked that goo as well so I was really out of luck with having any haters on my side. You know, for you parents out there, don’t just make your 7 year old kid a pimiento cheese sandwich without explaining a word about what it even is and then exclaiming BUT, it’s PIMIENTO CHEESE! like that’s supposed to mean something. It took me about 25 years to reach a place where I’d try a bite of it again. As Will Smith would say, parents just don’t understand. Being the
gluttonous cultured adult that I’ve grown into, there isn’t really anything I won’t try (unless it’s got antennae). I’ll even revisit the horrors of something like pimiento cheese.
When my girlfriends and I went to Charleston last year, we ate the entire city. I am not kidding. At Husk alone, four of us each ordered two appetizers – plus two extras for the table because, you know, we had to try the fried chicken skins and crispy pig’s ear – an entrée and all the desserts on the menu. This on top of cocktails and wine. We get things done, yo.
Out of all the restaurants we went to, Magnolias was my very favorite. I’m actually still irritated with myself for not ordering the peanut butter French toast but if I’d done that, then I wouldn’t be sharing this pimiento cheese recipe with you today!
Holy moly, kids. Gone are the processed, creepy tubs of orange goo. Instead, my world has been made complete due to Magnolias’ ridiculously delicious pimiento cheese. It also helps that, as an adult, I now know that pimientos aren’t some subterranean toxic waste and instead, they’re just a sweeter version of a red bell pepper. Mom, if you would’ve just told me that when I was 7, I wouldn’t have had to live through so many pimiento cheeseless years.
I’ve adapted Magnolias’ recipe slightly and I believe my version might even be better. Why don’t you make it and let me know?
Why Zac Brown Band? While I’m not a country music fan, Zac Brown Band is an exception for me. I can’t help but feel like dancing when I listen to them as they incorporate a jam band feel that I totally love. Plus, he’s also from Atlanta and being that this here “Southern caviar” recipe shines light on my Georgia roots, there just wasn’t a better choice.
Recipe adapted from: Magnolias
- 5 large roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped OR 2 1/2 cups jarred diced red pimientos or roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pimiento stuffed green olives
- 16 ounces New York or Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (I forgot this, whoops!)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus more as needed if you like things really spicy
- Several dashes Frank's hot sauce
- Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Because I've set off my apartment smoke alarm the last three times I've roasted peppers, I went with jarred for this recipe. I used the Cento brand and they were excellent here. I served this with crackers but it's awesome alone or on a sandwich with crunchy lettuce. You could probably eat this on cardboard and it would be great.
- Additionally, this is the first recipe ever in my life that I did not salt. Between the olives, parmesan and hot sauce, you simply do not need added salt.
- Lastly, for those of you who don't like olives, please give this a shot still. My olive hating friend taste tested it for me and she thought it was fantastic! If you're really dead set against olives, leave them out. I just can't guarantee what that change will do overall.