Serious Pimento Cheese

Mr. Haney has spent years perfecting his technique for homemade pimento cheese, a spreadable and totally addictive concoction of cheddar cheese, pimento, and mayonnaise. His advice? First, grate your own cheese. "The pre-shredded junk is loaded with cellulose powder and doesn't contribute to a good spread texture or mouth feel," says Mr. Haney. "Additionally, those are mediocre cheeses, anyway, and don't have as much flavor as high quality cheeses." Second, he uses Mario brand pimientos. "These pimentos are richer in color and flavor. The juice is richer than other brands, too, and adds lots of flavor and color to the spread," he says. Third, use the best mayonnaise possible—ideally homemade.

Finally, "Chill the pimento cheese overnight before the initial serving," says Mr. Haney. "Not only does it allow the ingredient flavors to come together, it will allow the spread to become firm, regardless how much mayo and pimento juice you used. The cheese acts like a sponge and absorbs liquid. After this initial chilling, the spread should be perfect to serve at any temperature."

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