A Duo of Southern Dips — Down-Home Comfort

Game-day goodies deserve a dose of down-home comfort, too, and this duo of dips is certain to score with your home team. I'm sharing two favorite Southern dips — Pimento Cheese and Warm Crab Dip. Make them both or go with one or the other depending on the crowd and your budget.

Pimento cheese has long been regarded as a food group in the South. However, in recent years, it has absolutely exploded in popularity. Once only found on white bread, stuffed in tomatoes or slathered on a celery stick, it now can be found as a burger topping, melted on french fries, spooned into grits, as a chili topping, and even breaded and deep-fried. Regardless of how and where you slather it, it can't be beat as a satisfying snack and is certain to be a hit at your Super Bowl party. If you want to lighten things up, you can substitute half the cheese with a reduced-fat cheese and half the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. No one’s the wiser, and it tastes just as great.

Crab dip might seem a bit highbrow for a football feast, but at its core is cream cheese. Cream cheese is not quite a food group like pimento cheese, but it is an entire subcategory of comfort food. Cream cheese is the utilitarian base of many a comforting dip, dish or delectable nibble. You can also use the lower-in-fat Neufchatel or even sub some of it out for a soft goat cheese. In terms of crabmeat, I'm suggesting claw, not the more precious and expensive jumbo lump or lump. Serve both dips with a selection of crackers, celery and cucumber slices for some easy "first down" home comfort.

Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother's country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y'all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all , among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

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