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National Grilled Cheese Month

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There is no better comfort food than a grilled cheese sandwich …that is unless you make it ultra-indulgent by using pimento cheese!

And since April just happens to be National Grilled Cheese Month, there is no better time to enjoy this sandwich than today!

Most folks just purchase pimento cheese at the supermarket, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make from scratch.

The most important ingredient is the cheese. A sharp cheddar provides better flavor than a mild cheddar. I prefer the texture of the pimento cheese better when I grate the cheddar cheese myself. It is creamier than if you use pre-grated packaged grated cheese. But if you are in a hurry, use packaged grated cheese as a short cut.

Pimentos are small sweet red peppers, similar to, but more flavorful than, a bell pepper. You can find jars of them already diced in the supermarket. Diced roasted red peppers can be used as a substitute.

To bind the pimento cheese, I use both mayonnaise and cream cheese. The cream cheese provides flavor and texture. The key to success is to make sure that the cream cheese is softened at room temperature. If it is cold and firm, it won’t blend into the mixture.

A pinch of sugar is my secret ingredient. It helps round out the flavor of the ingredients. Just trust me, it makes a difference.

On a final note, I love the kick that jalapenos give to pimento cheese, so I always add a tablespoon or two of minced fresh jalapenos to my pimento cheese. But if you prefer a milder version, omit the jalapenos.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich

For the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese:

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces), at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced pimentos or roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons seeded and finely diced fresh jalapenos
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

For the sandwich:

8 slices white bread
8 teaspoons unsalted butter

To make the pimento cheese: In a large mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sugar until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese, pimentos, and the jalapenos. Stir, mashing with a fork, until well combined and relatively smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of the hot sauce if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the sandwich: Evenly butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. On each slice, evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pimento cheese. Top each sandwich half with 1 of the remaining buttered slices of bread, buttered side up.

Preheat a griddle (or a large skillet) over medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the warm griddle and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a flat spatula, carefully turn the sandwiches over. Cook until the second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: This recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 cups of pimento cheese. Pimento cheese will keep for up to 4 days in your refrigerator. (That is if it lasts that long!)

Recipe used with permission from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.