Dip, baby, Dip! • 07.28.09
Remember the birthday parties of our childhoods? I’m sure I’m showing my age here (which is 27, so it’s not that big a deal), but it did seem like every birthday party had the same menu.
Pigs in a blanket were really popular. So were Doritos (really good parties had both Nacho flavoured Doritos and the newer Cool Ranch flavour.) Pizza was always a big hit, but some moms went with the Bagel Bite option instead. Health-conscious moms would put out a tray of baby carrots and Ranch dressing. Rice Krispie Treats were often featured, as well as a cake from Piggly Wiggly (or Food Lion) or, if you were really lucky, an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen. And there was always always always a bowl of Ruffles chips and a tub of French Onion Dip. I actually think there was a law in the state of Georgia that stated that you could not throw a party unless you served store-bought French Onion Dip. And the moms of my childhood friends were very law-abiding citizens.
Things have certainly moved on now. I have seen menus for childrens birthday parties that include sushi, barbequed prawns and a baked potato bar. All of which sounds delicious, actually… but I do miss some of the foods we grew up partying with.
For those of you who may also long for the carefree days of ice cream cakes served to the sounds of the 69 Boyz, I suggest you make this onion dip and take a stroll down memory lane.
It’s not exactly like the gloopy onion dip of our childhoods. This is onion dip for grown-ups. Onion dip that is subtle, rich and full of the sweetness of slowly caramelized onions. I adapted the recipe from The Barefoot Contessa. I added some chopped parsley to give it a bit of freshness and a tiny dollop of horseradish to pep it up and add a bit of background heat. You can make it without these additions and it will taste even more like the onion dip you ate off of paper plates while you dripped into your lemonade at a pool party.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Makes about 2 cups of dip
2 large yellow onions
3 tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp prepared horseradish, or more to taste
Cut the onions in half and then slice into very thin half-rounds. You’ll end up with about 3 cups of onions.
Heat the butter and the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and fry for about 10 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 more minutes. You want the onions to be brown, soft and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
Meanwhile, place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayo in a large mixing bowl. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. You want the mixture to be smooth. Add the onions to the cheese mixture and mix well to combine. Stir in the horseradish, if using, and mix well. Stir the parsley through the mixture just before serving so it stays bright and fresh. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve at room temperature with veggies for dipping… or with Ruffles for a more retro experience!