Roasted Red Pepper Cheese (My Version of Pimento Cheese)

If you have spent much time reading my restaurant posts, you have probably figured out one thing about me-I love pimento cheese.  There’s one caveat, though….it has to be homemade.  I don’t like storebought pimento cheese.  In fact, because my mom generally bought it rather than making it when I was growing up, I didn’t think I liked pimento cheese at all.  At the school where I used to work, we would have “sandwich day” on Fridays, and sometimes they served pimento cheese-homemade pimento cheese.  I was a little apprehensive about it at first, but I tried it, and I was sold!  After trying several different versions over time, I have arrived at this version that I would consider “mine”.  I use a roasted red pepper instead of jarred pimentos…you could, of course, use pimentos if you want to be truly authentic.  I love to take this in my lunch, on a sandwich or to eat with crackers.

Start by softening an 8-ounce block of cream cheese (or Neufchatel, which is what I use).  When you are almost ready to make your pimento cheese, roast a red pepper-I do this over an open flame, or you could do it under the broiler or on the grill.  If you don’t want to bother, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers.  Once the pepper is good and blackened, put it in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  After about fifteen minutes, the skin will rub right off.  Once you have skinned the pepper, you can slice the “cheeks” off and slice them into strips.

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Now, grate eight ounces of cheddar cheese.  I did this in my food processor.  Put the strips of red pepper into the food processor, then the softened cream cheese and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (depending on the texture that you like).  Whir in the food processor until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I didn’t add anything-the cheeses and mayo are fairly salty, and I didn’t want any pepper).  Serve with bread, crackers, or sliced veggies.

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