The Lee Brothers’ Cheese Relish
The Lee Brothers’ Cheese RelishAugust 14, 2012
At what point does pimento cheese become something else? The answer depends on who you ask. In a quirky short film on the subject (yep, a film about pimento cheese) Pimento Cheese, Please!, Southern food authorities like Martha Hall Foose, Ted Lee, and Robert Stehling weigh in on the subject of what is pimento cheese.
Diehards say the real thing is a nostalgic, indulgent blend of grated sharp cheddar cheese (the yellow kind), mayonnaise (Duke’s), and jarred pimentos (the kind with the yellow lid), plus maybe a little seasoning. Not much more, not much less. Some like Lee, admit to flourishes like roasting their own red peppers, others to additions like sugar, pickle juice, and even bourbon.
Matt and Ted Lee’s Cheese Relish, for example, pays homage to the standard version, but with a twist. “Where the pimento cheese we know and love has yellow cheddar and roasted red peppers,” they explain, “this spread has Swiss cheese and yellow banana peppers, with capers mixed in.” And why not have variations, Lee asks in the film, “It’s not going to change pimento cheese for me.”
So vary away. Just be careful what you call it.
Here’s the recipe for the Lee Brothers' Cheese Relish
Makes 2 cups, enough for approximately 16 people snacking
Time: 10 minutes
10 oz. Swiss cheese, finely grated
One 12-oz. jar pickled banana peppers (hot if available) drained and minced
3 tbs. sour cream
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbs. chives minced (approx. 1/6 bunch)
2 tbs. capers (soaked in fresh water for 1 minute then drained)
Mix all ingredients together with a spatula until evenly blended. Refrigerate, if possible, for 2 hours or overnight. Serve in a bowl with a good supply of crackers.
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern (Clarkson Potter, 2009)