In March, my husband and I spent two days in Charleston, South Carolina. We explored the streets of the Charleston Historic District where we admired the architecture, chatted with the friendly locals, and indulged in traditional Southern food and drink. The second night of our visit we dined at Sean Brock’s restaurant Husk. On the advice of a local shop owner, we arrived at the restaurant early in order to enjoy a bourbon from the extensive collection at Husk’s bar. While drinking our hand crafted bourbon cocktail, we tasted the delicious pimento cheese on the bar menu. Every southern cook has their favorite recipe for pimento cheese; my new favorite pimento cheese recipe is adapted from the cookbook Heritage by Sean Brock.
(adapted from Heritage by Sean Brock)
Makes 3-3½ cups
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup bread and butter pickles*, finely chopped
- ¼ cup bread and butter pickle brine
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 12 ounces of whole pimentos. drained and finely chopped
Place the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Add the hot sauce, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, white pepper, smoked paprika and stir to mix. Add the chopped pickles, pickle brine, and grated cheese and stir once more. Gently mix in the chopped pimentos. The pimento cheese will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Serve the pimento cheese with salami and a selection of crackers. A sandwich of pimento cheese, salami, cornichon, and celery on artisan bread is also delicious.
*I used Emeril’s Homemade Sweet and Spicy Pickles that I canned last summer when pickling cucumbers were abundant in the market. You can use your favorite bread and butter pickles.