Listen, readers, I love food (I guess that explains my weight problem in middle school and high school, but it doesn’t explain my lack of social skills). I’ve gotten into some pretty crazy stuff in the last two years (bread-making, sourdough, charcuterie, preservation) but this blog is about you, the beginning or intermediate cook, with access to a kitchen, and eager to learn the basics of cooking.
I think of food as a balance between art and science, just like stimulating all five tastes on your tongue (sweet/sour/salty/bitter/umami) while delicately blending aromas into the dichotomy of deliciousness (That was way too artsy. Gag.).
So my plan for this blog is to break some simple, easy dishes into scientific and artistic parts, able to be understood by anyone with a mind as pretentious as mine. If this blog ever gets popular (it won’t), then maybe I can take recipe requests or answer questions.
Let’s get down to business (to defeat the Huns). With the Super Bowl coming up, let’s impress your friends with some French onion dip. It’s a little time-consuming, but I swear it’s easy, and you’ll end up with something way better than the dip in a can.
Don’t look at me like that; you really can do this. You only need three components: onions, seasoning, and something creamy to mix them into.
Typical creamy dips (well, homemade ones anyway that aren’t filled with stabilizers and thickeners) generally have one of four things as the base: mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, or more likely some combination thereof. Cream cheese gives you a thicker and sweeter product, and I don’t really like that with French onion dip, since all the sugar you need is hidden inside the onions.
Plain Greek-style yogurt is on my short list of favorite foods, but I associate the taste of yogurt with fruit, so that’s out. Let’s go with equal parts mayonnaise, for richness, and sour cream, for body.
Easy French Onion Dip
- 2 large yellow (or Vidalia) onions or 3 medium yellow onions
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Other seasonings
1. Chop your onions.
(I won’t go into knife skills now. But really, precision isn’t necessary. The onions are going to cook down a lot anyway. Either slice the onions into cute little ribbons or chop them into a medium dice.)
2. Toss them into a pan and add salt.
(Don’t actually throw the onions. Pre-heat the pan on medium-low heat, and then add the oil. If you’re a measure-er, go with 3 tablespoons of oil and a hefty half-teaspoon of fine salt.)
3. Cook the onions over medium-low heat until dark brown, stirring every minute or two.
(The intent here is to first sweat the moisture out of the onions, and then allow the sugar in them to caramelize. If there is ever sticking or pre-mature browning, add a tablespoon of water to cool the pan down a little bit. Don’t do this too often. Worst case scenario: Just turn down the heat.)
4. Don’t be afraid to let the onions brown.
(Once the onions have been in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes, browning is a good thing. Just don’t let them burn! The onions should be in the pan about 30 minutes total.)
5. Let the onions cool a bit, and then add them to the mayonnaise and sour cream.
(Just stir it all together. You’re a champion.)
6. Add the lemon juice and season.
(Salt and pepper are a must. Give the dip a good couple of grinds [or shakes] of pepper. I usually stop there, but if you’re feeling crazy, maybe add a sprinkle of garlic powder, paprika, or dried herbs. If you’re feeling saucy, maybe add a small squirt of barbecue sauce or some chopped up chipotle peppers.)
7. Mix well and let the dip sit overnight in the fridge.
(This is necessary. We need to rehydrate our seasonings and let our flavors seep into the creamy mixture. You will be rewarded for your patience.)
8. Well, there you go. You’re on your way to becoming a casually culinary Terp.