Whether served on a paper plate or a silver platter, one Georgia-based batch maker shows the versatility of this signature Southern spread.
It’s hard not to consider the pimento cheese sandwich spread in the context of Masters week around the South. What started out as a staple in workers’ lunchboxes has now found a place of prestige at the Augusta National; simple pimento cheese on white bread, sold cheap and served in a thin green bag.
Its rise from humble beginnings is not unlike Deana Tanner Bibb’s, founder of Proper Pepper Pimento Cheese in Sandersville. Years ago, Bibb fell in love with a neighbor’s recipe and began dabbling with different spices, experimenting with new cheeses, and adding in a blend of roasted peppers.
She soon became the queen of pimento cheese among friends, family, and neighbors, donating gallons to fundraisers, welcoming new neighbors, and sharing it with new brides and bereaved adults. That was 23 years ago.
Along the way she saw an opportunity to “spread the love” to even more connoisseurs and thus decided in 2013 to begin marketing her product. She found almost immediate success and was soon awarded the 2015 Flavor of Georgia award.
To Bibb, pimento cheese is quintessentially Southern, like seer-sucker suits, Coca-Cola, peach cobbler and hand-written thank-you notes. She wanted her product to have a well-bred pedigree of ingredients that work together for a dignified flavor. She worked carefully to pull together naturally-aged white sharp Cabot cheddar, Duke’s mayonnaise and her own blend of roasted red peppers and spices. She wanted her pimento cheese to be proper – proper enough for silver platters and flavorful enough for simple snacking.
Her Classic and Get Back Jack flavors are available at specialty grocery stores throughout the region including Madison Produce Company and Farmview Market in Madison, Striplings General Store in Watkinsville, T-Bone’s Nursery in Milledgeville, Good Earth Produce in Augusta, and many more.
For more than two decades, Bibb has watched food trends come and go, but pimento cheese – like the South’s greatest golf tournament – never goes out of style.
Think outside the bread box
Pimento cheese has come a long way from its solitary role as a sandwich spread. It shines as an easy appetizer or quick topper to juicy burgers. See how these area restaurants are using it in fresh new ways.
The “Burnin’ Sherman” – Proper Pepper pimento cheese on toasty bread, topped with bacon and pepper jelly – is the signature sandwich at this hometown eatery in the “town Sherman refused to burn.”
A classic burger, dripping with in-house pimiento cheese and all the fixin’s, has long been a local favorite at this drugstore diner. Grab a fork and knife. Napkins are on the table.
This Pimento Cheese small plate, served with crackers and apricot preserves, pairs well with any of the craft beers on tap at this well-known Athens pub.
Deana Bibb also shares a slew of tips for serving pimento cheese without the white bread. Visit properpepper.com for more inspiration.