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What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin

"Mother would take blocks of American cheese, jars of Miracle Whip, and cans of pimentos, sit under the post oaks and grind them together with a clamp-on-the-table meat grinder." That's how pimento cheese was made in Patrick's family.
This version started out pretty much the way Patrick's mother's did, with pimentos and mayonnaise but Cheddar and Jack rather than American cheese. Then, feeling the pimentos were not as tasty as they once might have been, we switched to thick, jarred Spanish peppers and bolstered the mix with smoked paprika, along with plenty of pepper and a little mustard. The resulting cheese, in our assessment, can be addicting, whether on a cracker or in a sandwich.

Enough for four big panini


    • 8 ounces aged Cheddar cheese, yellow, or white and yellow mixed
    • 1/3 cup diced Spanish peppers or 1 (4-ounce) jar of pimentos
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, more or less
    • 2 teaspoons mustard
    • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot smoked paprika
    • freshly ground pepper—lots
    • 1 sliced scallion


Grate the cheese on the coarse holes of a grater or run it through a meat grinder if you still have one. Stir in the peppers, mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika, tasting and adjusting as you go. Finally season with plenty of freshly ground pepper and add the scallion.


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