The unfortunate consequence of being deprived of chips and dip as a child is that I am the girl at parties hovering over the crock pot filled with queso dip, piling more than a manageable amount of hot crab spread into my Tostitos scoops, and destroying the poor bowl filled with spinach-artichoke dip.
In addition to childhood deprivation, part of my love for these sorts of dips, I suspect, stems from the fact that I never make them. As many of you know, so many of these most-adored party dip recipes call for opening a pack of soup mix filled mostly with dehydrated ingredients, two days worth of the recommended salt intake, MSG and a host of nitrates and preservatives. While this knowledge never seemed to prevent me from eating these dips — all willpower dissolves when confronted face to face — for many years it prevented me from making them.
With the recent success of a homemade sour cream-and-onion dip, however, I am hoping homemade queso dip along with a few other classics might be in my future, with any luck before the Super Bowl. Who knew that real sour cream-and-onion dip is astonishingly easy to prepare and far more delicious than its dried-soup variation? While caramelizing onions takes time — time, not work — throwing together this dip couldn’t be much more difficult than opening a box of instant soup. One bite of this sweet-and-tangy dip atop a salty Ruffles potato chip allayed my fears that my Super Bowl guests, upon observing the spread — my mother’s olivata, my aunt’s whipped feta with roasted red peppers, and not a crock pot in sight — might run out the door. If you feel like going this homemade-sour-cream-and-onion-dip route, rest assured that your guests will feel right at home watching the game. Just don’t forget the Ruffles… for some things there are no substitutes.
UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed: Winner is Dona. Now, for the giveaway: If you are interested in receiving this generous gift from The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which includes a 4-piece set of stainless steel cheese knives and cheese board as well as an eco-friendly bamboo, triple-play server, please leave a comment below. Tell me your favorite appetizer, hors d’oeuvres or dip/spread to make on Super Bowl Sunday. I have enclosed the full description of the giveaway below:
Home to more than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese, it’s no surprise Wisconsin wins more awards for its cheesemaking excellence than any other state or country in the world. This Wisconsin Cheese entertaining set includes a few entertaining essentials: a 4-piece set of Stainless Steel Cheese Knives and a an eco-friendly bamboo, triple-play server.
The triple-play server is also perfect for serving dips! If you’re looking for a few dairy-friendly dip recipes, check out the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s new collection of more than 50 dip recipes.
Real Sour Cream & Onion Dip
Inspired by a recipe in Sally Schneider’s The Improvisational Cook
Yield = 1.25 cups
Notes: When researching recipes for this dip, I came across a ton of variations, many of which called for additional ingredients such as goat cheese, mayonnaise, dried onion powder, etc. While I thought for sure the goat cheese variation would win me over, none of the variations I tried was as good as this simple combination of equal parts caramelized onions and sour cream, some sort of member of the green onion family — scallions, chives, etc — and a little freshly squeezed lemon juice. I know how hard it is to resist trying out those flashy recipes, but I highly recommend giving this simple recipe a go first.
Side note: As far as classic dip ingredients go, sour cream is really on the light side: 2 tablespoons contains 60 calories. Just 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, in contrast, contains 100 calories. Just a thought.
Yield = about a heaping cup
4 cups diced onion (from about 3 to 4 small to medium onions)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vinegar* (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
*red wine, white wine, sherry, balsamic — anything
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
4 scallions* or a bunch of chives, thinly sliced (to yield about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon (or more) freshly squeezed lemon juice
*I used the white, light green and the tender parts of the dark green portions of the scallion.
1. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, season with a pinch of salt and cover the pan. Cook covered for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove the cover, and increase the heat slightly. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the onions are not sticking. Sprinkle the sugar overtop and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring more frequently now, until the onions have turned a nice deep brown. Pour in the vinegar, turn off the heat, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove any browned bits. Take pan off the heat and transfer onions to a large bowl to cool.
3. This mixture should yield about 1 heaping cup of onions. When the onions have cooled, stir 1/2 cup of them into the sour cream. Taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in scallions or chives. Add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, lemon juice or more caramelized onions if desired. Save any remaining caramelized onions to add to omelets or pasta or more sour cream-and-onion dip.