Although chef Steven Goff has cooked across the South and now helms the modern American restaurant Jargon in Asheville, North Carolina, he admits he was never a fan of traditional pimento cheese, the iconic Southern spread. “I don’t like when it’s bland store cheese just covered in mayo with canned pimento and no seasoning,” Goff says. But he knew that plenty of his regulars loved the stuff, so he decided to take a closer look at its parts. “I broke it down into all its different elements—peppers, cheese, mayonnaise, spice,” he says. “And I thought, How can I elevate each component to make this dish something I’d like more?” Then, inspired by the smooth beer cheeses he admires in British pub food, he employed a food processor. The result is his airy, punchy whipped pimento cheese.
“It’s a nice, soft creamy cheese spread, where each element brings flavor,” he says. “I love using local peppers, whatever I have on hand, and roasting them. The cheddar brings sharpness, the Brie brings a creamy mouthfeel, the Taleggio lends funk, the cream cheese bulks it up, and the Duke’s is just that feeling of a Southern grandma hug.”
Find his secret ingredient at the corner store: King Cobra malt liquor. “King Cobra thins out the cheese but also has an incredible malty flavor that’s good in braised collard greens and also makes the most amazing vinegar ever,” he says. “When I go to food festivals, I bring a case of King Cobra.” At Jargon, Goff serves his whipped pimento cheese with housemade pork rinds and fermented pickles. Chips and crunchy veggies would work well, too.