Cooking the Texas Book Fest: Pimiento Cheese with Jack Gilmore

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Jack Gilmore's first cookbook is called "Jack Allen's Kitchen." Photo by Kenny Braun.

Jack Gilmore’s first cookbook is called “Jack Allen’s Kitchen.” Photo by Kenny Braun.

People have been asking Jack Gilmore about a cookbook for, oh, 20 years.

In 1994, Gilmore was the head chef at Z’Tejas, an Austin-based restaurant company that eventually expanded to a handful of markets around the company. Gilmore was the face of the brand, and people loved his food.

Fast forward 20 years and people are still loving Gilmore’s food, perhaps even more now than they did then. Why? Because Gilmore’s commitment to buying as many ingredients from local farmers has become almost as well known as his pimiento cheese.

In today’s food section, I write about Gilmore’s path from working two jobs to support his young family, including son Bryce, the Food & Wine Best New Chef who now runs Barley Swine and Odd Duck, to his position now as one of the most respected chefs in the city who has just published “Jack Allen’s Kitchen,” one of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year.

Gilmore will cook from his book at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Texas Book Festival’s cooking tent, followed by an official cookbook launch party on Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Oak Hill, 7720 U.S. 71. He’ll head to the Round Rock location on 2500 Hoppe Trail for a similar party on Nov. 5. At 7 p.m. Nov. 21, you can catch him at BookPeople and on Dec. 6 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. You can find out more about Gilmore’s upcoming events at jackallenskitchen.com/cookbook.html.

Pimiento cheese has always been one of Gilmore's most-requested recipes. Photo by Kenny Braun.

Pimiento cheese has always been one of Gilmore’s most-requested recipes. Photo by Kenny Braun.

Pimiento Cheese

When I was growing up, we went to an old steakhouse where they served a little crock of cheddar cheese spread and saltine crackers. I wish I could remember the name of that restaurant because it’s what inspired us to greet customers with this at Jack Allen’s Kitchen. It’s customary to get chips and salsa at Tex-Mex restaurants, and Italian and fine dining restaurants present diners with bread and butter or olive oil. We wanted to serve something unique. Something that was Southern and Texan in spirit. The homemade Pimiento Cheese gets people talking the second they are seated.

This recipe makes quite a bit. But if you’re going to put in the effort, you may as well make enough to last a couple of weeks. Plus it makes a great gift to bring over to neighbors and friends.

— Jack Gilmore

1/2 lb. cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup red bell pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Whisk together all ingredients in mixer, and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Serve with chips, on sandwich bread, or however you want. Makes 8 to 10 Mason jars.

— From “Jack Allen’s Kitchen” by Jack Gilmore and Jessica Dupuy


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