Hosting Hack: Go Lowbrow

John Currence, aka Johnny Snack, is one of our favorite southerners—and he’s Oxford, Mississippi’s most celebrated chef. His restaurant empire includes City Grocery, Boure, and Big Bad Breakfast. He’s also exactly the kind of guy we’d want to toss back a few beers with over red beans and rice. His advice for pulling off a great party? Relax, have fun, and don’t overthink—in other words, keep it simple. “You don’t have to flambé crepes every time you entertain. Go easy—and remember, people just like to be taken care of. Serve things that don’t require a lot of attention and that you’ve made before.”

Chef’s go-to crowd-pleaser is super lowbrow—and super delicious: “Douse a block of Philly cream cheese with Pickapeppa sauce and spread out some Triscuits.” That cheesy snack is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, but if you want to take things up a notch, here’s his recipe for pimento cheese, a only slightly more sophisticated spread that’s a staple of Southern entertaining.

Pimento Cheese
Enough for a crowd (approximately 1 quart)

1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar
1 1/3 cups shredded Havarti
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup bread and butter pickles, minced
1/4 cup pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco hot sauce
1/3 cup pimentos, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Combine cheeses, mayonnaise, pickle juice and Tabasco in food processor and pulse until combined. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

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