I should have known it contained mayonnaise.
The secret ingredient in loads of delicious dishes, it's one of the crucial ones in pimento cheese, a Southern staple that is more spread than cheese.
I wasn't too familiar with it before I tried it at Cob & Pen a year or two ago. The Lakeland restaurant serves a big mound of it as an appetizer with crispy crackers. A lovely, cheesy snack.
Soon, I started seeing it on other menus around Tampa Bay, as an appetizer, the filling for fried fritters, on sandwiches. Oh, it also goes great with a cold beer.
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated on a large box grater
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
¾ cup jarred pimento or roasted red peppers, finely diced
3 tablespoons store-bought mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes or hot sauce, to taste, optional
Bagels or crackers, for serving
In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, pimentos and mayonnaise. Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, working them for at least a minute until they all come together. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir a couple of times to incorporate. You should have something smooth and spreadable.
Serve with bagels or crackers.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times