This southern inspired appetizer tray is the perfect thing to kick off your Kentucky Derby party. The pimento cheese and brined pecans are the stars, serve them along side your favorite fresh garden veggis and some chips or crackers. And of course, a Dreby Day appetizer tray wouldn't be complete without a few slices of country ham
Roast the Red Pepper over a gas burner on your stove, your grill outside or under the broiler in your oven. Turn the pepper often and allow the skin to char completely.
When the skin is completely caharred and blistered, put the pepper in a bowl or container and cover tightly with a lid or plasic wrap. Allow the pepper to steam and cool for at least 10 minutes. This will really help with ease of peeling the pepper.
When the pepper is cool enough to handle, scrape away the charred skin and discard the stem and seeds. finely chop the pepper to ready it for the pimento cheese.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, mayonaise and spices. Cream them together with the paddle attachment until they are light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
Slowly fold in the cheddar cheese and the roasted red pepper. Season to taste with salt and freshly groound black pepper.
Preheat your oven to 350º. Disolve the sugar in the warm water and soak the pecans in the solution for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle half of the salt on a sheet tray, strain the pecans and place them in a single layer on top of the salt. Sprinkle the remaining salt on top of the pecans.
Roast in the oven until golden brown and delicious, about 5-7 minutes.
To create a Derby Day Appetizer Tray, serve the pimento cheese with an assortment of springtime vegetables, crackers, chips and whatever else you're loving at the moment. A few slices of country ham is a great compliment as are pretzels and apples. Be creative, use your imagination!