Old Fashioned Pimento Cheese
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces Vermont sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon grated Vidalia onion (see notes)
1 tablespoon diced pickled jalapeño pepper
Pickled jalapeño pepper juice
Dash cayenne pepper, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper (see notes)
Grate the cheese and set it aside. You should have 3 cups extra-sharp cheese and 1 cup Vermont cheddar for about 4 cups total cheese.
Place the mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave if needed so that it is easily spreadable. Add to the mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Add the onion, jalapeño pepper, a dash of jalapeño pepper juice, and cayenne and black pepper. Stir to combine. Fold in the roasted red pepper. Fold in the reserved cheese. Taste for seasoning, and add more mayonnaise or jalapeño pepper juice as needed to make it spreadable.
Notes: Once refrigerated, this pimento cheese will firm up. It develops in flavor overnight, so if possible make it a day ahead. Add as much onion as you like. You can finely grate the onion, or you can coarsely grate it for more texture. And add as much red pepper (or a drained 4-ounce jar of diced pimentos) as you like. The roasted red pepper really adds a lot of flavor and color to pimento cheese. No salt is needed with the amount of salt in the cheese and pickled jalapeño peppers.
Julie roasts two large red bell peppers on her own but said she’ll cheat and buy already roasted red peppers (not pimentos) when she's short on time.
Roasting red peppers is a bit messy, but it can be done by cutting the red bell peppers in half and placing them cut-side down on a baking pan. Run them under a broiler until the skin blackens, then cool the peppers, remove their blackened skin, stem and seeds, and dice them. It isn't a pimento, but it's still pretty close.