Try this twist on a favorite gathering nosh -- the onion dip

Try this twist on a favorite gathering nosh -- the onion dip

  • By baking the simple onion dip, it puts a whole new twist on a classic.

    By baking the simple onion dip, it puts a whole new twist on a classic. Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

 
Posted6/17/2020 6:00 AM

As Father's Day approaches, and we can gather in small groups, many of us will start to entertain family and friends. Almost every gathering in our house includes a dip of some kind, so when I tasted this new twist on onion dip, I knew I had to make it for my family, too. Warm, creamy, cheesy, onion goodness is what you will experience when you eat this simple five-ingredient recipe for baked onion dip.

We love onion dip of any kind. Whether it is homemade or store-bought, there is something about the perfect addictive balance of savory onion flavor combined with creamy sour cream and a crunchy salty chip. Somehow, despite my efforts to convince myself the dip tastes as good, using a piece of celery as a dipper, nothing can replace a potato chip. The combination is as classic as peanut butter and chocolate.

 

In the early 1950s, Lipton created its dry onion soup mix, and legend has it, a housewife in Southern California combined it with a pint of sour cream to make the first onion dip. The dip became known as California dip. According to "The American Century Cookbook," "Word of the new dip spread through Los Angeles faster than a canyon fire, newspapers printed the recipe, onion soup mix sales soared, and Lipton executives, a continent away in New Jersey, were ecstatic." Last year alone, Lipton reportedly sold more than 58 million individual packets of onion soup mix. I know I have a packet, or two, in my pantry.

I have also purchased the packaged version of French Onion Dip from the dairy section of my grocery store. To me, the main difference between this and the homemade version is the lack of beef flavor, provided by a beef bouillon like addition in the packet mixture, which is likely the reason it also makes an excellent addition to homemade meatloaf.

Warm, creamy, cheesy, onion goodness is what you will experience when you eat this simple five-ingredient recipe for baked onion dip.
Warm, creamy, cheesy, onion goodness is what you will experience when you eat this simple five-ingredient recipe for baked onion dip. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

Several years ago, my friend and I found ourselves guests at a gathering of professional barbecue experts at one of our favorite barbecue restaurants, Smoque BBQ in Chicago. We were there by coincidence but encouraged to stay by this kind, and generous group of people brought together to celebrate the release of "Praise The Lard," a new cookbook by the father and daughter team, Mike Mills and Amy Mills. We would soon learn the duo are the masters behind the famous 17th Street Barbecue with locations in Murphysboro and Marion, Illinois.

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The gathering was a who's who of the local barbecue industry, including Dave Raymond, the mastermind behind Sweet Baby Ray's and Meathead, author of "The Science of Great BBQ and Grilling." At one point, my friend turned to me and said, "I think I own his cookbook!" We felt out of place, but the group welcomed us with warm conversation and a great buffet of food made from recipes included in the new cookbook, along with smoked goodies from Smoque. In a large iron skillet, the warm, creamy and gooey Baked Onion Dip, flanked by a huge bowl of tortilla chips for dipping, awaited our curiosity.

After several hours of talking and eating, my friend and I left the party, holding new copies of "Praise The Lard," graciously signed by both the Mills and a list of recipes to make at home. Since then, we have both made the Baked Onion Dip a number of times with many requests to share the recipe.

This recipe is so simple it is dangerous. Combine chopped onions, cream cheese, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese and bake, that is it. When it is done, sprinkle with some minced chives or green onion and then eat with the dipping vehicle of your choice -- tortilla chips, pork rinds, veggies, pita chips, or my favorite, the good old potato chip.

By baking the simple onion dip, it puts a whole new twist on a classic.
By baking the simple onion dip, it puts a whole new twist on a classic. - Courtesy of Penny Kazmier
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

I have made this in a glass baking dish, but my favorite way is in my cast iron skillet. The skillet helps to maintain the heat and keeps the dip warm longer, and let's face it; looks great too. I have thrown this on the grill several times and then put it under the broiler for a few minutes to achieve a bubbly brown topping, but have also started dipping without the browning -- it is up to you. If you decide to heat this on the grill, be sure you use an appropriate vessel.

Onion dip, hot or cold, homemade or purchased, is here to stay. There will always be room on my buffet table for any variety. So, the next time you have people over consider trying this different twist on onion dip or make it for yourself, no guests required.

I would also encourage you to check out the "Praise The Lard" cookbook, as it is full of great recipes for professional quality barbecue and sides at home. Happy dipping!

• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge.

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