The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., is one cheesy place. The first time my husband, Roy, and I went to it, we fell in love. Not with each other — we did that a couple of decades ago — but with those oh-so-famous and oh-so-delicious pimiento cheese and egg salad sandwiches on white bread for which the Masters has become so renowned.
Wrapped in a clear green cellophane-type wrapper — a hat tip to the tournament’s famous green jackets — the sandwiches are made daily for the world’s best-known golf tournament. They’re fresh, wonderful — and dirt cheap. At a place where tickets can cost a mortgage payment or two or three, these white-bread wonders cost a paltry $1.50 each.
But getting the recipe for either sandwich is a Masters mystery. Don’t bother calling Augusta National, where the tournament is held, for its super-duper top-secret recipes, because, as we say here in the South, it ain’t happenin’ — no way, no how. A spokesman for the notoriously private club politely and good-naturedly declined my request for the recipes.
If you’re not going to the Masters or Augusta next week to get the real thing, you can make these little Southern iconic gems yourself.
For something so tasty, neither sandwich is complicated to make. Let’s just call these simple concoctions comfort food, the kind that’s easy to throw together for tailgating parties, church socials, picnics and even for funerals.
My source for the sandwiches was Marynelle Presley, friend and Southern cook extraordinaire. Presley, mother of two and grandmother of two, is like most women from the South whose great cooking genes have been handed down from generation to generation.
For her quick and easy pimiento cheese sandwiches, she keeps it very simple, and is adamant about using sharp cheddar and freshly cracked black pepper, adding that the “real key” is Duke’s Mayonnaise.
“I’ve tried using medium cheddar cheese,” she adds, “but it’s just not the same.”
Like most country cooks, she never measures most ingredients but uses intuition that flows out of those southern genes. “After I’ve grated the cheese, I just start with a couple of spoonfuls of mayonnaise and then keep adding it until it’s just the right consistency.”
And yes, Presley’s husband, Royce, is related to another more famous Presley, the one who loved his sandwiches fried up with peanut butter and bananas, but she adds, “It’s a long way off.”
Making egg salad sandwiches is just as easy as making ones with pimiento cheese. I’m happy to say that my husband fell in love with me all over again when I learned to make the faux-Masters egg salad sandwich.
Using the basic Kissin’ Cousin egg salad recipe, you can make the egg salad more extravagant by adding other ingredients. Olives, onion, celery, cucumber, shallots, capers, avocado, cayenne and curry come to mind, and you can always add extras like lettuce, tomato and bacon.
KISSIN’ COUSIN TO THE MASTERS EGG SALAD SANDWICH
6 hard-boiled eggs, shells removed
1⁄3 cup or slightly more, to taste, of Duke’s Mayonnaise
3⁄4 teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the eggs in a large bowl until just slightly chunky. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve on white bread.
— Mary Ann Anderson
AVOCADO EGG SALAD SANDWICH
4 hardboiled eggs, shells removed
1⁄2 avocado, seeded and peeled
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
Dash of hot sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Place eggs and avocado in a medium-sized bowl. Chop until just slightly chunky. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve on toasted or untoasted white or wheat bread.
— Mary Ann Anderson
MISS MARYNELLE’S MASTERFUL PIMIENTO CHEESE SANDWICH
16 ounce block sharp cheddar cheese
1 4-ounce jar of chopped pimientos
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Grate cheddar cheese into a large bowl. Add chopped pimientos (for more pimiento flavor, use 8-ounce jar instead of 4-ounce jar). Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise to mix and stir well. Continue adding mayonnaise one teaspoon at a time until the mixture is of the consistency you like. Serve on white bread.
— Marynelle Presley
PIMIENTO SANDWICHES WITH CRUMBLED BACON
This recipe works well with rye bread.
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 2-ounce jar pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
Finely chopped onion to taste
Mix all ingredients together with enough mayonnaise to spread; start with 1 to 2 teaspoons and work from there. Spread on rye bread and broil for a minute or two.
Adapted from “Land of Cotton: A Collection of Southern Recipes” (Wimmer Cookbooks, Inc., $21.95)