Styling/Photos by Brooke Echols
‘Kickin’ Alabama-made pimento cheese proves it’s not just for celery anymore
By Lenore Vickrey
Growing up in Selma, Kim Peake didn’t even like pimento cheese. But today, she makes and sells her own popular brand – Kim’s Kickin’ Pimento Cheese – in 10 specialty and grocery stores in Alabama and her fan base just keeps growing.
“I love cheese,” says the retired insurance agent, “but like my grandmother, I never use a recipe.” She began making her special brand of zesty pimento cheese 10 years ago for her family, and for gifts. “I would send a little tub with my kids when they went to spend the night, things like that. People liked it and it took off.”
When her son, Phillip, worked at Mark’s Mart in Selma, he recommended to his boss that he try his mom’s pimento cheese. They tasted it, ordered 100 containers, and sold out in a week.
She started making batches for paying customers in 2017. “I do everything myself,” she says, using a KitchenAid mixer and working out of a commercial kitchen at a local church. “I shop one day, do labels the next day, make the pimento cheese the next day, one small batch at a time.” Her son and daughter, Mary Taylor, help with labeling. A friend did the calligraphy and painted the red pepper for her logo. Selma’s Robert Armstrong, founder of GMomma’s Cookies, has been her mentor along the way.
Her secret ingredient: whipped cream cheese. Besides three types of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, pepper jack and Gouda), it’s her main ingredient. “I’m not a mayonnaise eater,” she acknowledges, but she does use a “dollop” of mayo to hold her recipe together. For the “kick,” she adds a bit of jalapeno and an assortment of spices and peppers.
Her favorite way to eat her pimento cheese is on Wheat Thins. “There’s a little bit of sweet to them so it seems to be the per- fect mix. I also like it on melba toast.”
But as the popularity of pimento cheese has grown in recent years, and more restaurants are featuring it as an appetizer, its uses are expanding way beyond the traditional bridal shower finger sandwiches and stuffed celery sticks.
During the holidays, she makes a pimento cheese ball rolled in toasted pecans and bacon. She also makes a quiche with it and sausage. “Now I’m on a sausage ball trend. I just add a little Bisquick and sausage to it,” she says. She recently sold more than 300 sausage rolls at a local event.
Kim’s followers on social media love to share ideas
- Mix it in ground hamburger meat for a zing of flavor
- Add it to grits
- Stir it into chili
- Use when making a grilled cheese sandwich
- Stuff jalapenos with a spoonful, wrap in bacon and cook on the grill
- Melt it over tortilla chips for zesty nachos
- Use it to stuff deviled eggs
We love to reinvent leftovers. If you find you have Pimento Cheese left over, which may be rare, it is worth it to save a bit of it just to fry up these bites of heaven. Taking leftovers and making them into something new is a favorite pastime of ours. Pimento Cheese only gets better when battered and fried to perfection. For many more recipes like this one, visit us at www.thebutteredhome.com.
Fried Pimento Cheese
1-2 cups prepared pimento cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, mold spoonfuls of pimento cheese into 1-inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet. Freeze for one hour. Prepare 3-4 cups canola oil for frying. Heat oil to 350 degrees. In 3 separate bowls, set up a breading station. In one, mix eggs and water. Within the second, mix flour, salt and pepper. In the third, mix panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Remove rolled pimento cheese from the freezer. Dredge each ball into the flour mixture, then the egg and water mixture and finally the panko mixture. Place back on sheet pan to rest while battering the remainder of pimento cheese. Fry in batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and cool. Serve with a ranch or spicy ranch sauce.
Fruit and Nut Pimento Cheese
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced pimentos
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredi- ents, mixing well to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Mary Bruce, Central Alabama EC
Pimento Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers
8 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces diced pimentos, drained
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound ground church
1 pound ground sirloin
Mix cheddar cheeses, cream cheese, pimentos, mayo, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. On a pan lined with wax paper, roll cream cheese mixture into a log and freeze for 1 hour. Mix together the sirloin and chuck and make thin hamburger patties. Take out the frozen chese log and slice into 1-inch slices. Sandwich the pimento slice between the hamburger patties and mold seams together. Grill on medium-high heat until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
Kirk Vantrease, Cullman EC
Arizona Pimento Cheese
8 ounces cream cheese softened
3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 7-ounce jar diced pimentos
4 slices thin bacon, cooked crisp an =d crumbled
1 small can diced green chilis, drain and blot excess moisture on paper towels
In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill. Use as a spread with crackers, tortilla chips or in celery sticks. Also, very good as filling for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Patricia Agnew, Cullman EC
Busby Bourbon Pimento Cheese with a Kick
3/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1/2 cup sliced pimento, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons Bourbon (good quality)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
6 cups (1 1/2 pounds) freshly grated cheese: sharp/medium/mild cheddar or Colby Jack
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
5 – 10 drops hot sauce
3/4 cup sweet relish, optional
Stir mayonnaise, pimento, bourbon, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Stir in all cheese until well blended. Add more mayonnaise if needed and also the option of relish.
David Busby, Coosa Valley, EC
Cook of the Month: Victoria Perry, Black Warrior EMC
Camp Velvet Pepper Cheese
2 pounds extra sharp cheddar, grated
4 poblano peppers, charred and cleaned
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 cups (or more) olive oil mayonnaise
To prepare poblano peppers, char skins over open flame or un- der broiler. Drop immediately into a paper bag, seal bag and chill. Rub charred skins off under cool running water, halve peppers, remove stems and seeds and pat dry. Dice 1⁄4-inch and set aside. Grate cheese and place in large bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder, smoked paprika and diced peppers and mix. Add mayonnaise, combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until used. Cook’s notes: My family most often uses pepper cheese as a vegetable dipper. It’s great in scrambled eggs, makes a delicious topper for tomato soup and baked potatoes, and, of course, as a sandwich spread.
Bacon Pimento Cheese
4 bacon slices
2 8-ounce blocks sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4-ounce jar diced pimento, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestshire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cook bacon in large skillet until crispy; remove and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon. Sitr together bacon, cheese and remaining ingredients just until blended. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to one week. Yield: 8-10 sandwiches.
Pimento Cheese Ball
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained
1/2 cup onion, finely diced dried parsley flakes
Mix all ingredients together and shape into a ball. Then roll it in dried parsley flakes. Refrigerate until served. Note: recipe can easily be doubled.
Dolores Childree, Baldwin EMC
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