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Masters Tournament known for its green jackets -- and simple sandwiches

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(MCT News Service)
The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., is known for its green jackets and its egg salad and pimiento cheese sandwiches. These copy-cat recipes, including this egg salad sandwich, will help you feel like you're brushing arms with celebrities and golfers.
Caption
(MCT News Service)
The pimiento cheese sandwich from the Walton Way Deli in Augusta, Ga., rumored to be one among many providers of sandwiches to the Masters Tournament, is flavorful with garlic pepper and a pinch of sugar.

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 have 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 and just plain wonderful. Plus, they’re 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.

Of course, you may find yourself in Augusta and craving one of those sandwiches – but without the Masters ticket surcharge. Not to worry. Several restaurants in Augusta come very close to those masterful recipes, and – wild rumor has it – that one (or possibly more) of these local institutions could even be the provider of those delicacies.

Locals say that for egg salad sandwiches, Sandwich City on 10th Street is the place to get cracking. WifeSaver’s pimiento cheese is practically legendary, and with eight locations around Augusta, you’re never far away from one of these home-style restaurants. Another spot for pimiento cheese, Michael and Lisa Hogue’s Walton Way Deli consistently gets five stars from its customers.

“Keeping it simple is our philosophy,” Michael Hogue says. “It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients to make food taste good. We make all of our products from scratch and in-house. We like to stay on top of things and make sure everything is fresh and consistent.”

Hogue also says that while his deli’s chicken salad is his bestseller, the pimiento cheese is popular, too. “We use medium-sharp cheddar cheese, pimiento peppers, mayonnaise, a pinch of sugar and a little garlic pepper. The garlic pepper is what adds that little something extra to it.”

If you’re not going to the Masters or Augusta anytime soon 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.

At an event in my hometown, one of the menu items was pimiento cheese sandwiches. My husband took a nibble of one, and then happily declared it to be “as close to the real thing as it gets.”

The source of the sandwiches for the soiree 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.”

Presley – Marynelle, not Elvis – also offers freshness tips if you find that you must make them up a day ahead of time.

After cutting the sandwiches, she suggests placing them in a flat plastic container that seals with a lid. Next, soak a paper towel with water and then squeeze it out really well. Place the paper towel over the sandwiches and seal.

“The paper towels don’t dry out,” she explains, “so the sandwiches will be just as fresh the next day.”

Plenty of other variations of the pimiento cheese sandwich use flavorful ingredients like crumbled bacon, cream cheese, and yes, even sardines — a sort of strange recipe I found in a 1940s-era cookbook.

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. The as-far-from-fancy-as-it-gets recipe also uses Duke’s Mayonnaise and fresh, soft white bread, and it’s a close kissin’ cousin to the one served at the golf tournament.

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.

But for real taste of the Masters, leave off all those extras and eat it naked – but the sandwich should be naked, not you.

Kissin' Cousin to the Masters Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

Ingredients:

16-ounce block sharp cheddar cheese

1 4-ounce jar of chopped pimientos

Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Duke’s Mayonnaise

White bread

Directions:

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.

Ingredients:

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese

4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 2-ounce jar pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped

Finely chopped onion to taste

Mayonnaise

Directions:

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)

Pimiento and Walnut Sandwiches

This recipe is from my mother’s cookbook that dates to the 1940s. The publisher can’t be determined because its cover, first few pages, and index are missing. Mama made a million recipes from the book, which has 966 pages without the index. Even with its torn, yellowed, and stained pages, I can never make myself throw it away.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped English walnut meats

1/2 cup chopped pimientos

3 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon salt

Butter

Brown or nut bread

Directions:

Mix walnut meats with pimientos, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and salt. Spread between buttered slices of brown or nut bread.

— Mary Ann Anderson

Pimiento-Sardine Sandwiches

This is another recipe from my mother’s beloved 1940s cookbook.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mashed sardines

1/3 cup minced pimientos

Mayonnaise

4 slices toast

Directions:

Mix sardines, pimientos and mayonnaise to taste; broil on toast.

— Mary Ann Anderson

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©2014 McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):

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