FRENCH ONION DIP
Growing up, my mother would only let me eat Kraft’s french onion dip from a tub on vacation. Later in life, while away at college, I would find that people didn’t just eat the stuff out of tubs, but mixed their own using sour cream and onion soup mix from a packet. Don’t get me wrong, both are good, but nothing compares to the overwhelming richness and depth of flavor that comes from the real thing — deeply, caramelized onions.
This stuff is just plain good. So good, in fact, that after making a fresh batch for a party the following day, my two former roommates devoured an entire bowl in one sitting. When brought to parties and potlucks and served alongside crudites or a bowl of sturdy, ridged potato chips, it has been known to disappear in minutes. My sister has even taken to slathering the stuff on turkey sandwiches for lunch; an application that certainly gained my seal of approval.
Real, homemade onion dip is the kind of thing that catches the unsuspecting eater off-guard. Those expecting a mild, light hint of dehydrated onion among a sea of sour cream and mayonnaise are taken aback by this version’s astounding savory flavor. After all, this is just the type of dish that people don’t take the time to make from scratch. The word “time” is key in this instance as it does take quite a bit of it to coax the inherent sweetness from the onions. So, next time you have a few extra onions on-hand and are craving something ultra-indulgent, think about whipping up a real batch of onion dip.
FRENCH ONION DIP
Inspired by Ina Garten’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
When caramelizing the onions in this recipe, have patience. This is a SLOW process that can take as long as forty minutes to achieve the proper results. Make sure to use medium-high heat during the first stage of caramelization as this will help drive the moisture away from the onions. Once the onions have begun to lose their shape, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir them every five minutes or so until they are richly browned and sticky. Also, make sure to spread the cooking onions around the bottom of the pan after stirring to maximize contact with the hot surface as this will result in more even cooking.
- 2 large sweet yellow onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ounces whipped, room temperature cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil.
- When butter and olive oil are hot, add the onions along with a pinch of salt and stir to coat them in the hot fat.
- Continue to stir the onions frequently until they have given off a good amount of moisture and begin to turn a pale yellow – about 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir the onion every five minutes or so until richly, browned and caramelized all over – about another 30-40 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat and allow the onions to cool before combining them with the remaining ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Makes about 2 cups