Robert Newton, a chef from Arkansas, serves this spicy sandwich at his Brooklyn cafe Smith Canteen. A blend of sharp white cheddar, roasted red peppers, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper form the basis of his take on the quintessential Southern spread.


For the pimento cheese (makes 2 cups):
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • ¼ cup roasted red bell pepper (roughly one large pepper)
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt, fresh ground pepper, and white vinegar to taste
2 ounces thin-sliced country ham (optional, per sandwich)
Artisan sourdough bread, sliced


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Break down red peppers to remove seeds and inner membranes. Place on a sheet tray and coat with olive oil. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper, place flesh side down and roast until fork tender. Remove from oven and place in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. After 10 minutes, peel off skin.

In a food processor, add shredded cheese, roasted peppers, mayonnaise, and cayenne pepper. Pulse until just combined, being careful to maintain a coarse texture. Add small amounts of salt, pepper, and white vinegar to taste.

Assemble sandwich by spreading layer of pimento cheese (2-3 tablespoons) on one slice of bread. Top with sliced ham. In a non-stick pan melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter, place sandwich in butter and brown on one side. Flip and repeat with more butter if needed.

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