‘Tis the season of ugly sweater parties and open houses, online shopping, and mulled cider. Weekend nights are hot commodities, and booking up fast. Where there are holiday parties, there are sure to be appetizers–my favorite things to eat and cook. I’m not a big fan of the kind of fancy schmancy parties where appetizers must be eaten daintily off of little plates. I want people to flock around the table, napkins in hand, nibbling, conversing, and laughing between bites.
Campfires, puppies, and dip have one thing in common. They bring people together. Just think… Your eyes meet. The corner of his lip curls into a smile. You tuck your hair behind your ear. Your hands brush, halfway between potato chip and dip. It’s love at first bite. Who needs mistletoe when you have caramelized onions?
I’ll admit to noshing on chips and dip mixed from little packets on occasion, but that’s another subject. What I’m talking about here is what store-bought french onion dip secretly wishes it could be–complex, savory, salty and sweet.
Like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas, the onions start out angry, but really, they’re just lonely. Once they are given the special treatment (a little butter, some salt, sugar, and some slow attentive stirring), they mellow and sweeten, just like the Grinch’s heart.
Fold them into sour cream, along with fresh thyme, sauteed garlic, and some fresh onions for balance. Serve with sea salt and cracked pepper potato chips, and you’ll have a dip with enough magnetic power to draw everyone into the smallest room of the house, which is where all the best parties happen anyways.
- 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced (reserve ⅓ cup raw onions)
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 16 ounces sour cream (here's a killer vegan cashew sour cream recipe)
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions, chopped (reserved from above)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
- Caramelize the Onions (process adapted from The Improvisational Cook, by Sally Schneider, and a guide from Real Simple you can find here):
- Heat the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the onions have released their liquid.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the onions turn a slight golden color. Sprinkle with sugar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden brown, 10-25 minutes more. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool, then finely chop.
- Saute the Garlic: Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just beginning to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the garlic from the heat immediately.
- Make the Dip: Stir together the chopped caramelized onions, raw onions, sauteed garlic, thyme, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, sour cream, and kosher salt to taste. Using an immersion blender, or a food processor, puree about half of the dip. Stir together once again. Serve with vegetables or Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips.
- 3 medium russet potatoes
- olive oil for frying--not extra virgin (enough to fill a dutch oven or medium saucepan to 2 inches)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer, thinly slice the potatoes, skin and all.
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven or medium saucepan until shimmering and hot, but not smoking. Fry the potatoes in batches until golden around the edges and crispy. Remove to a paper towel covered plate. While still hot, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.