“Just after I happened into making blueberry barbecue sauce and found my voice, I started thinking about appetizers that spoke of the region. Pimento cheese and crackers came to mind. And although other chefs have done pimento cheese to accolades, I just didn’t think it fully reflected the dip culture Down East. Then I thought of the artery cement my sister Leraine serves on Christmas Eve. Cream cheese, sausage, and Ro-Tel heated in a crockpot till somebody spoons it into a Frito Scoop. (I can’t believe I just wrote Frito Scoop in my book.)
Since its debut at Chef and the Farmer, baked pimento cheese and sausage has never gone away. We’ve taken it off the menu, but those in the know have always ordered it, and we’ve obliged them. Now its home is at the Boiler Room, where it’s their number-one seller. They serve the cheese with our homemade saltines.” —Vivian Howard
Note: Using high-quality cheese makes a big difference here. At the very least, do not use pre-shredded cheese food from a bag. That stuff is often coated with a powdery substance that keeps it from clumping, but it also keeps it from tasting like cheese.