Letter to Rachel Ray
I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain says about you; you’re brilliant! I was brainstorming a recipe to enhance remote-driven activities for Super Bowl Sunday, and the Pimento-Cheese Sliders I saw in the Rachel Ray December Magazine was just the inspiration I needed. I switched it up, however; Pimento Cheese is a personal choice. I’m sure you understand.
Your fan, Peggy.
I switched it up a lot, in fact, simplifying the ingredients for the burgers and substituting my favorite Pimento Cheese recipe for Rachel Ray’s Pimento Cheese sauce. I don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking during the Super Bowl, especially during the commercials, so I prefer using my cheese spread, which may be made up to two days in advance.
I was raised in Alabama, where Pimento Cheese is as important to state pride as is college football. Growing up, I had a Pimento Cheese sandwich every day for lunch, which was my primary source of calcium and protein. I’ve tasted many versions of this spread through the years, some remarkable and some best forgotten; I am what I am today – the good and the bad – because of Pimento Cheese.
It came as a shock when my mom shared the pimento facts of life; that they’re actually a variety of sweet red chili pepper. I still prefer my version of the truth-that bottled pimentos are a special condiment used exclusively in pimento cheese recipes.
Pimento Cheese can be as simple or as complex as palate and purse allow. A lot of Pimento Cheese out there is made with processed Cheddar. I’m not dissing that, especially if it’s the cheese your mom used, but I prefer the rich flavor a farmhouse Cheddar provides.
My favorite Pimento Cheese is also made with homemade, lemony mayonnaise, so I included a recipe below. But to save time, Hellman’s would be a fine substitute, though many
Midwestern palate’s prefer the sweeter flavor of Miracle Whip.
There’s plenty of Pimento Cheese in this recipe to accommodate two tablespoons per slider-this may be excessive for you but I’d rather have too much pimento cheese than not enough. I stuff leftover Pimento Cheese into celery sticks, an appetizer that deserves more respect than it receives.
You can make these sliders smaller or larger, but the burger size should match the bread size. My stainless biscuit cutter was too small for my intended two-bite sliders, so I used the mouth of a plastic top found on a detergent bottle. (Stifle that gasp-before using, I sanitized it thoroughly.) You may save calories by omitting the butter brushed on the bread, if desired. These bread rounds, as well, may be toasted and saved in a cookie tin, two days before game day.
Hat’s off, incidentally, to Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s and Rachel Ray for taking this back-water, country cheese spread seriously, and giving it the star-status it so richly deserves.