When Sean Brock talks about pimento cheese, people tend to pay attention. The chef at McCrady’s and Husk, in Charleston, South Carolina, and Husk Nashville has been one of the driving forces behind the recent revival of Southern food, with a frequently cited library of vintage cookbooks and a passion for heirloom ingredients that he—literally—wears on his sleeve, in the form of colorful vegetable tattoos. In his cookbook, Heritage, Brock spills years of recipes and stories, including his signature recipe for pimento cheese, one of the South’s most cherished—and debated—staples. Check it out below.
“I’ve seen people almost get into fistfights over who has a better pimento cheese recipe. Southerners don’t mess around when it comes to their cherished “pâté de Sud.” We slather the stuff on everything from celery stalks to saltine crackers, and some people won’t even consider eating a hamburger without a half-inch layer of pimento cheese in the stack.
Everyone has his or her own way of making pimento cheese, but the biggest debate always revolves around what kind of mayo is used. I prefer Duke’s; it happens to be my favorite. But you can use your favorite brand—that’s what making a signature pimento cheese is all about. Of course this is best made with pimento peppers you roast yourself, but if you can’t get the fresh peppers, substitute 12 ounces jarred whole pimentos, drained and diced (don’t use jarred chopped pimentos—they have no flavor).”
Note: For creamier pimento cheese, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.