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Dear Ann,

I’m still coming down from our weekend in Sewanee, Tennessee at the MDK Knitting Getaway. I need to reenter daily life gently. Baby steps.

I feel it would be helpful to this process to fix myself a grilled pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwich. That was our first Getaway lunch this year. I could eat it every day. Crunchy, gooey, creamy, with a little kick. I’m now regretting that I didn’t have a second one while I had the chance. A failure to grasp life fully.

Photo: Alabama Chanin Journal.

Pimento cheese is the sort of thing you find all over the South, as I understand it.  I also understand that although the concept of pimento cheese is simple (grated cheese + mayo + decorative bits of jarred or roasted red peppers), people feel strongly about it. They have their own additions and their special rules. (I believe your rule is that half of the cheese has to be grated fine, and the other half coarse. OK.) (That recipe appears on page 39 of Field Guide No. 7: Ease. It is magnificent.)

I’m hungry enough that I’m going to take the risk of making pimento cheese in my decidedly north-of-the-Modern Daily-Line, New York City galley kitchen. We have cheese up here. We have mayonnaise. We have jarred red peppers. What could possibly go wrong?

Chef and author Scott Peacock’s version has to be excellent. I’ll die on that hill.

I’ve also enjoyed Angie’s Pimento Cheese (pictured above), served at the Alabama Chanin Factory Cafe, also in grilled cheese format, also with a fried green tomato slice stuck in there for good measure. Angie’s recipe has minced onion in it, which strikes me as radical. I take no sides in this debate. Just pass me the bowl.

I’m not sure I’m ready to make fried green tomatoes or—heaven help me—biscuits, but I hope to get there.




  • Minced onion makes everything better!

  • Kay, just learned that the secret to excellent Southern biscuits is southern flour. White Lilly flour to be precise. On order from Amazon, we will see.
    Fried green tomatoes (OMG) had them with a seasoned corn meal fried crust, Be still my west coast heart! Well worth the effort.

    • White Lily “Red Label” is the only flour I use for biscuits!

    • White Lily flour is the best for southern style biscuits! If you live in Texas, you can walk into the nearest HEB store and buy it. My problem is finding the green tomatoes to make the fried version. Sigh…….

      • Can second the soft wheat southern flour is what makes biscuits (and pie crust too) fluffy and tender.

  • I wouldn’t discount anything Scott Peacock cooks up and I’m fully aware that jumping into pimento cheese recipes is as bad as chicken salad wars (fruit? nuts?) and then WHICH mayo to use (I’m a recent Duke’s convert, myself) however the holy trinity of any cheese related making is: Worcestshire sauce, dry mustard (Colman’s) and Tabasco sauce or cayenne.#dontleavehomewithoutit.

    • Eating your way through a Tennessee “fun hangover” is the ONLY way to go!

    • I am taking all of this on board. I know that Ann is a firm advocate of the Duke’s mayo. Did you know that Duke’s started as a wagon that made sandwiches for factory workers? I heard that somewhere. I guess people liked their mayo!

      • Duke’s is the only mayo without sugar added, which means it’s a little more acidic and zippy. The only mayo!
        Also, White Lily is TN, and Southern Biscuit is NC, grown, milled here, and sold in local grocery stores fresh. Just sayin!

      • As a lifelong Southerner, I have always considered Dukes not only the best but the only mayonnaise.

        • And you are absolutely correct.

  • I have been known to put just a smudge of grated onion in my pimento cheese; also a shot of Worcestershire sauce. It is sort of a ‘no bad version’ food. I had a grilled pimento cheese sandwich for lunch yesterday myself. It was sublime.

  • I grew up on pimento cheese and have strong feelings about it. For me, it’s not pimento cheese without some mustard in it — if you try it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

  • If the mayonnaise is not homemade it should be Duke’s. Finely sliced scallions are also a good addition.

  • You need to try Professor Bailey’s Pimento Cheese. Ann can get it at Whole Foods in Nashville. Professor Bailey (Tom) is a Nashville native and graduate of the University School of Nashville. He began the company in his kitchen making batches for friends. Now it is available in several spots around Nashville, including Franklin Farmers Market and other local farmers markets. Whole Foods is about to take it regional. It is “to die for.”

    • Huge fan of Professor Bailey! His frozen pimento cheese gougeres are a way to feel like you are baking something.

    • You can order Professor Bailey’s from their website! Minimum order of 5 containers shipped frozen via FedEx. Worth it!

  • I have to agree about Dukes mayonnaise! I’m a displaced Yankee living in VA for 28 years now. My son-in-law would always ask me if I was using Dukes’s whenever I served anything that was mayo based. Kept telling me it was the best. I finally tried it just to keep him quiet. He was right and I would not use anything else! It’s also made right here in Richmond VA by Sauers, a spice company that has been around been around for over 100 years.

  • When we visited Charleston, SC two summers back we visited a bbq joint where pimento cheese was served with fresh pork rinds and you could get a side of cracklin’ too. It was divine. Our midwestern selves made fun of the pork rinds till we had our first bite. Apologies were made.

  • I agree with all the Lover’s of Dukes mayo. BTW Dukes is sugar free. C.F. Sauer Foods is a family owned company and has been around since the 1800’s. They also have the best spices.

  • Callie (of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits in Charleston, SC) puts a bit of cream cheese in her biscuit recipe. Also, I would think that Peppadews in the pimiento cheese would be tasty. I turn down nothing that is prepared and set before me!

  • always having pimento cheese in the fridge is the same as milk and butter. it looks empty if those necessities are missing

  • Maybe you should put out a Field Guide with just recipes! I made my pimento cheese this past weekend. Hi am finally able to buy and use Dukes mayonnaise, which is fantastic. I am toying with the idea of including a tiny bit of grated onion. At lunch today, I’ll get out the crackers and some pimento cheese and have a feast!

    • Right on about the recipe Field Guide!

      I was having similar thoughts. Perhaps like one of those recipe books that women from churches put out. There could be a number of them: salads of MDK, deserts of MDK, (or how about potluck suppers of MDK with a dessert section a salad section, casserole section etc.), BROWNIES of MDK. Yum. Knitters do need Knourishment.

  • Fried green tomatoes are great…..breaded and fried….my husband’s aunt prepared them for us……thought it was just a southern story

  • I’m a New Englander so pimento cheese is completely new to me. How is it served other than in a grilled cheese? Is it always served melted on something? I’m intrigued.

    • I am also a New Englander, but I moved to Louisiana 10 years ago and then to Va 5 years ago. I am addicted to pimento cheese. I love Pawley’s Island Pimento Cheese from South Carolina. Last summer Stop &Shop carried it, not this year. The cheese company’s website says BJ’s carries it. I may have to join this summer.

      • That is my favorite! I almost never make my own anymore. Costco has a large family sized container that comes in handy.

      • I love Pawley’s Island Pimento Cheese. Only one I buy!

    • The southern side of my family gets mad about it, but I love pimento cheese in a BLT with sourdough bread. Or even just with really fresh, flavorful summer tomatoes.

    • I grew up eating pimento cheese with crackers and/or celery sticks. Grilled pimento cheese is newer for me, but heavenly (especially with a slice of fried green tomato).

    • It’s perfectly fine served as-is, on crackers or bread. The grilling makes it extra nice but is not necessary at all.

  • Kay and Ann, your retreat was the best. And those sandwiches- heavenly. Hope to see you next year.

  • A recent favorite brand of pimento cheese is Palmetto Cheese. It’s made in SC you can eat it cold in a sandwich by itself, on crackers or the low carb method on sections of red orange and yellow peppers, sweet. You can eat it hot as a grilled cheese sandwich or stirred into grits with sausage or bacon added or just mixed into scrambled eggs with veges or meats of your choosing. It’s delicious!

    • Agree about Palmetto Cheese. While they carry it in groceries in Tennessee it always seems to taste best bought and eaten close to its source in Pawleys Island, SC.

      • That is my favorite too. I like the original, my daughter likes the one with Bacon.

      • Everything is better at Pawleys Island! I am blessed to be able to visit my parents there often. Palmetto Cheese is my go to source and today I made myself a palmetto cheese sandwich with a slice of Benton’s bacon.

      • The jalapeño version is the bomb..,

  • I make mine with peppadews in place of pimentos and use just a little of the liquid to thin out the spread.
    I did eat 2 of those fabulous sammies and honestly considered a third. Honestly.

  • I think you have cornered the market on clever funny knitters. I’m adding peacock to my list of favorite words – peacock, China, coriander. …

  • There is nothing better than pimento cheese, but I’m not writing about that. My last MDK email was before the retreat and I’m not getting them any more! it may be the trouble I had getting wifi at the retreat, or some other tech-related problem. I’ve just retired so I don’t have IT support any more and all my teenage grands live abroad. Help! I look forward to reading this every day (and have for years).
    I don’t see any way to contact you other than these comments.

  • Just saying, there is a fantabulous Pimento Cheese recipe on (!). I make it when ever Northerners come to town because most have never heard of it and it is so GOOD — as Kay has said. xo

    • Hi Judy! That link goes to a banana pancake recipe, which sounds delicious in its own right but is not pimento cheese. So great, now I have two food cravings instead of one……

  • I am not usually a sandwich person, but I knew enough to try that sandwich. I’m from California and it was different and delicious — for me, though, it was the green tomato. Yum, yum.

  • I noted that you called for jarred red pepper in your pimiento cheese. These taste very different from true pimientos, which are a form of chili peppers. They are found in their own jars in the grocery store, and are a must for pimiento cheese, where they serve as a distinct flavor, not just decorative bits.

  • “What could possibly go wrong?” Kay, did you ever see The Swedish Chef on “The Muppet Show?”

  • Although I just wrote about MDK recipes as a reply to Lynn Peters comment today, I have been wondering if there is a Shakerag cookbook ( or one in progress). The memory of that Tennessee whiskey bread pudding served last year has never left me…

    • There were Shakerag recipe cards, sold singly or as a set, in the Shakerag store. I almost missed them, but when I saw them I grabbed a set.

      • The cards include a recipe for Pimiento Cheese that uses grated cheddar and cream cheese.

  • Duke’s mayonnaise is absolutely a requirement (although Hellman’s is an almost adequate substitute). Kay, I’m coming to NYC tomorrow from Virginia, and there’s an extra jar in my pantry … if you need emergency mayo, send up a signal!

  • Good Lord, I thought the moisturizer post was passionate. Mayo, homemade, which brand? I wouldn’t attempt to recreate those fried green tomato sandwiches. Instead, I’m trying to add a little Shakerag to my daily life by stitching a few minutes before bed every night. It’s not much—it’s surely not homemade mayo—but it’s what I can reasonably do to keep the Shakerag feeling with me every day. That, and praying my number gets picked in the lottery for next year.

  • My dear friend who introduced me to pimento cheese says the only important thing to remember is that the t is silent.

    • Truth!

    • LOL – I’m from Texas and had never noticed that before, but it’s true. Pimenno cheese. And probably really pumenno (or is it spelled pamenno?) cheese – ha! And it’s made with “mannaise”. However you say it, it’s good.

  • In SC we only use Dukes Mayonnaise to make pimento cheese. It isn’t salad dressing and has no sugar or any type of sweetener. That’s the secrete.

  • Just to add another level of experimentation to this project, mayonnaise is a fun and easy thing to make and provides limitless (at least I haven’t hit a limit yet) opportunities for variation.
    Gosh, I’ve got to stop reading blogs about food at 1AM. Really hungry now!

  • Kay – I love the Proust reference in your letter’s title! Your pining for Shakerag pimento is a nice wink to how simply smelling a madeleine dipped in tea as an adult could transport him magically back to childhood.

  • I had pimento cheese for the FIRST time this past weekend at the MDK knitting getaway and I it was really good! Thank you for broadening my food palette.

  • Being a former Southern Belle myself, I need to comment on Pimento cheese and other goodies. Our pimento cheese was in small glasses that when emptied served as juice glasses. One of my favorites was Grenadine Cream Cheese. Just regular cream cheese, tinted a mint green and flavored with cucumbers. I think Kraft made it and I doubt it is still around. My Grandma made the most delicious fried green tomatoes. Dip in beaten egg, then corn meal and pan fry to golden brown. Ah………..long ago and far away!,,

  • The diversity of pimento cheese!

    I use the Cabot Cheese Honest Pimento Cheese recipe. It’s my favorite and I love the addition of buttermilk which enhances the tang! I usually have it in my fridge because I often make scratch biscuits.

    No to onion but yes to Worcestershire sauce.

    My brother makes pimento cheese too but his has a lot more pimento and roasted peppers. He believes in hand grated cheese only!

    Pimento cheese has become a must have at the Knit Local Getaway from the Yarns at Yin Hoo Podcast and our annual Rhinebeck get together. I always bring a small container for my dear friend Maya who says she treasures that tradition!

  • I absolutely agree that Duke’s mayo is the only way to go. Home made mayo is great for other things, but Duke’s is it for Pimento Cheese. I like a dab of grated onion too, just a little to spice things up a wee bit.And I know most folks will not agree with me, but why waste a good tomato by eating the thing green when succulent heaven is just a few days away? I save my fried green tomato eating for the last ones I bring in before frost. It all depends on how your family did things growing up!( if you grew up in the South)

    • You are correct!! My family LOVES fried green tomatoes so much the first ones get eaten WAY before they get a chance to get ripe! Also, I love them best when the tomato has that very first faint blush of pink on it, you get a more acid taste to the fried tomato that way (but they also tend to be more soggy so you have to eat them faster!!) But those last ones that get picked the day of the first predicted frost are always the best, because you know those are the last ones for a while!!!!

  • Just for the record, here is how my Mom makes her pimento cheese: coarsely grate 16 oz of very sharp cheddar cheese. Drain and add 2 jars of chopped pimento (not the huge jar or the really small jar! Sorry, but that’s the best I can do…..), and 1 tsp of Dukes mayo (yes, that is 1 tsp!), and a dash of cayenne pepper. More if you like spicy. Mix well. This makes a really stiff pimento cheese, but one that everyone that tries it loves! Makes a GREAT grilled pimento cheese sandwich. Also good on celery sticks, which is an OLD southern thang. (My Mom thinks this is heresy, but I add a very finely chopped chipotle pepper to mine….) Enjoy!

  • Kay, make James Beard’s Cream Biscuits, and I guarantee you’ll never look back!

  • I like the sound of Angie’s pimento cheese with green tomatoes fried sandwich sounds good, as a vegetarian I am always looking at different recipes , I will be looking at your recipe page Thank you

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