Down in the heart of Mississippi lives a James Beard Award-winning chef who is a lover of simple, Southern food and everyday staples. Although the collective imagination often attributes lots of grease and basic flavors to Southern food, John Currence clarifies that there鈥檚 nothing 鈥渂asic鈥 about the comforting taste of down-home cooking. In fact, it鈥檚 in its simplicity that the chef finds subtle complexity. 鈥淭here鈥檚 nothing that I haven鈥檛 made,鈥 Currence tells Brit + Co. The chef explains that he spends many hours in the kitchen striving to improve on the basic tenants of Southern cuisine. Keep reading for some of his top tips.

The ONe Condiment to Always Buy (Not Make)

One sauce, however, must be bought at the store. For Currence, Tobasco is perfect as it comes off the shelf. 鈥淢y kitchen and pantry are never without a dozen or so bottles in various stages of use,鈥 he admits. Of course, he confesses that he has certain hot sauces that he prefers for specific occasions. If eggs are involved though, Currence says that a few drops of Tobasco will make the dish irresistible.

Second to Tobasco, mayonnaise is Currence鈥檚 preferred condiment. 鈥淢ayonnaise is just a disgustingly versatile condiment,鈥 he says. 鈥淭here鈥檚 no end to the sauce options that mayonnaise can provide.鈥 According to him, if you can learn to make mayonnaise at home, your dishes will almost automatically improve. All you need to know how to do is beat an egg with oil and lemon.

eggs done easy

Although he loves the engineering aspect of creating foods from scratch, Currence admits that with a young daughter and a busy schedule promoting his new book Big Bad Breakfast, he鈥檚 constantly looking for shortcuts in his home kitchen. 鈥淚鈥檝e started doing something that runs against everything that I profess,鈥 he reveals. 鈥淚 put the eggs in the microwave.鈥 Apparently, cooking eggs in the microwave is the secret to a quick and healthy breakfast. Currence explains that in the morning for his daughter, he pops an English muffin in the toaster oven with some cheese, and puts a slice of ham and an egg in the microwave, and voil脿. 鈥淪he鈥檚 got her own homemade Egg McMuffin. It takes a minute and a half to make.鈥

The First Pressure Cooker Recipe to Tackle

Of course, Currence doesn鈥檛 advocate cooking exclusively in the microwave. But he absolutely encourages the use of a pressure cooker. 鈥淚鈥檓 a pressure cooker fanatic,鈥 he says. It鈥檚 a bit like an old-school slow cooker, and Currence says he can鈥檛 stop using one even though 鈥渆veryone seems to be apprehensive because they steam and whistle.鈥 According to him, they cook exceptionally quickly and do wonders for enhancing flavor. In particular, he says that roasts and chili are great choices for beginners.

If you鈥檝e never used a pressure cooker, Currence suggests starting by trying out some recipes like chili. Once it鈥檚 simmering in the pot, he says, 鈥淎ll you need is to have all of your condiments for your chili done ahead.鈥 Occasionally, the chef will whip up a few appetizers on the spot, but he says, 鈥淚 like the stuff that requires the least amount of work and doesn鈥檛 take you away from enjoyment and your friends.鈥 Surprisingly, his favorite feast for a game day involves no cooking whatsoever. 鈥淚 won鈥檛 lie; I like nothing better on game day than someone showing up with a gigantic box of Popeye鈥檚 Fried Chicken,鈥 he says with a smile.

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(Photo via Big Bad Breakfast by John Currence)