The Best Appetizer Starts with a Block of Cream Cheese and Jar of Pepper Jelly, Says Every Southern Grandmother Ever
The classic that takes less than a minute.
As much as our Southern mothers and grandmothers espouse the importance of hand-grating for the pimiento cheese and brining the chicken in buttermilk, there are some things that even they respect keeping simple. Take pepper jelly (the cool, colorful, spicy, slightly sweet condiment that doesn't get nearly enough praise), for example. While you can mix it into fancy salad dressings and slather it on a luxurious panini all you want, it's really a classic that doesn't need anything to dress it up.
The most traditional way to serve pepper jelly is actually the easiest. Odds are, you even have all the ingredients on hand. In fact, if we asked any old-school Southern hostess out there about the best way to break out the pepper jelly, they'd pretty much all say the same thing: "Grab the cream cheese and crackers."
All you need is a block of cream cheese and a sleeve of crackers to make a basic jar of pepper jelly really sing. Plop the block onto a plate, dollop hefty spoonfuls of the pepper jelly right on top, and don't be afraid to let it dribble down all the sides until the cream cheese is blanketed in neon, jellified goodness. Open up a sleeve of Saltines or Ritz — those are really the only correct options — and let everyone go crazy. Crazy they will go.
It might sound so simple that it's silly, but my grandmother would've never dignified perfectly statement-worthy pepper jelly (often homemade or picked up at her favorite farm stand) with any more prep time than that. It doesn't need it. It doesn't want it. So, why try any harder? Anything else is time better spent making homemade biscuits or watching another episode of Virgin River on the couch. Good thing it makes a great tv-watching snack.
The creaminess of the cream cheese complements the cool, spicy pepper jelly to make the perfect bite. You can add toasted pecans on top, or use goat cheese in lieu of cream cheese if trying to get fancy. Instantly, the appetizer requirement of any shower, celebration, or holiday is taken care of. Thanks, Grandma.