Cook this: Pimento cheese from Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ

‘My favourite way to eat it is, of course, on pork skins — or layered onto a BLT for a BLTPC’

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Our cookbook of the week is Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with one of the authors.

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Hinging on the trifecta of sharp cheddar, mayonnaise and peppers, pimento cheese is one of the South’s most treasured food icons. When he was growing up in Hemingway, S.C., pimento cheese may have been a staple of school lunches, but pitmaster Rodney Scott remained a skeptic.

“I would not eat pimento cheese in school, because it just didn’t look right. I didn’t know what it was. I’m this kid growing up who didn’t understand pimento cheese,” says Scott, laughing.

It wasn’t until later in life that he came around. Scott’s business partner, Nick Pihakis — co-owner of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston, S.C., Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta, Ga. — reintroduced him to it “and that’s when I really started to take notes with pimento cheese again,” says Scott.

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The use of Duke’s mayonnaise is nonnegotiable in the South, but since it can be difficult to find in Canada, substitute a tangy brand with a high ratio of egg yolks, or make your own version (try this Duke’s-style tutorial on Lifehacker).

And though you may be tempted to buy pre-shredded cheese, grate your own for this recipe. “(Pre-shredded cheese) is coated with cornstarch to precent it from clumping,” Scott writes. “Only freshly grated cheese will give you the creamy result you’re looking for.”

Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie
Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie. Photo by Clarkson Potter

PIMENTO CHEESE

1 lb (455 g) sharp cheddar cheese (yellow is traditional, but white is fine)
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 cup jarred diced pimientos, drained
3 tbsp Rib Rub (recipe follows)
1 tsp Colman’s mustard powder
1 tsp onion powder
3 oz (85 g) pork skins (1 medium bag) or celery stalks, for serving

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Step 1

Using a box grater, shred the cheddar on the medium shredding holes into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add the pimientos, rib rub, mustard powder and onion powder, mixing until blended. Fold in the grated cheddar, making sure it is evenly incorporated.

Step 2

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve as a dip with pork skins or celery stalks. Pimento cheese can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

RIB RUB

1/2 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/4 cup Jesus’ Tears (a.k.a. MSG)
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Step 1

Mix all of the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Cover and store in a cool dry place until ready to use.

Makes: 2 cups

Recipes and image reprinted with permission from Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie Copyright © 2021 by Rodney Scott’s BBQ, LLC, a South Carolina limited liability company. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Jerrelle Guy. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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