Jalapeño pimento cheese


One of my first food memories involves eating a charred pimento cheese grilled cheese sandwich - my great grandmother Mema decimated everything she cooked with unabashed, flagrant zest. I sat on my knees on her checked linoleum kitchen floor in Jacksonville, Texas – an old timber town about 120 miles southeast of Dallas – and picked out every single pimento from between the pieces of burned white toast.

And, more than two decades later, I refuse to touch pimentos. So, this recipe is a complete misnomer. 

I've since graduated to a more mature taste in this southern favorite - adding chopped jarred jalapeños is a really simple way to quite literally spice up a classic dish. I replace traditional binders (aka mayonnaise) with yogurt and neufchâtel or cream cheese. Garlic and cracked white pepper add a unique depth to a typically one-dimensional cheese spread.

I recommend eating the jalapeño pimento cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich, with corn chips and alongside crunchy vegetables, like celery, carrots and cucumbers. This southern staple may be foreign to you, but there's a reason it fills the Masters famed finger sandwiches. It's that damn good.

What you need

4 oz or 1/4 cup neufchâtel cheese or cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp finely chopped jarred jalapeños

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly cracked white pepper

8 oz sharp shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz shredded colby-jack cheese

How to do it

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together neufchâtel or cream cheese, yogurt, garlic, jalapeños, salt and white pepper until combined and smooth.

Add shredded cheese to the mixing bowl and, using a rubber spatula, incorporate the shredded cheese together with the other ingredients.

Serve...whenever! The jalapeño pimento cheese lasts for up to two weeks if kept covered in the refrigerator. This recipe makes about 10-12 servings.