Folks, it’s that time again. Time for another epic adventure into the world of Midwestern party food. And because Sunday is the Super Bowl, now is as good of a time as any to share one of the most critical and pressing issues of the day: hot dip.
Before we get into this, I need to make sure you understand the role of professional sports in middle America. Chicago in particular. People who don’t live in Chicago do not understand how much Chicago people love sports. I know you think you do, but you don’t. You think your Uncle Jim really loves sports, but unless he is from Chicago, he really doesn’t. And if you have an Uncle Jim who loves sports AND he lives in Chicago, well, then you know exactly what I am talking about. I am talking about people who have lost their damned mind.
As somebody who did not move to this area until adulthood, the sports thing can be problematic as I do not give a crap about sports. At all. This time of year is especially rough for me as the Superbowl is upon us and I lack the vocabulary to describe the vastness of the crap I do not give.
Late-night last Sunday, I was buying kitty litter at Walgreens and the guy at the check-out was like, “DID YOU SEE THE PATRIOTS? WHAT ABOUT THAT PASS?????” And it wasn’t like he needed to talk about it, but like he just auto-assumed I would want to talk about it too. Because everyone here does. So I was like, “Yes sir, I’m a thirty something single woman who enjoys making late-night runs for cat supplies specifically, specifically, so I can find someone to talk to me about football.” And he was like, “THAT’S WHAT I FIGURED!”
No, actually, I didn’t. He asked me about the Patriots and I smiled and made a feeble sort of “whoooo!” sound like I totally knew what he was talking about. Because I am an enabler. I just let people assume I care. I don’t. But who am I to squash their interests? Also, the one thing I really like about football season in Chicago is the food, so I let it pass. If I nee dot sit through 3 hours of watching men in tight pants pass a ball around so I can get a shot at a decent serving of hot dip, I’m there.
I am so there.
Holy crap, y’all. This dip, whoa. This dip. It is cheese. It is hot. It is spicy and creamy and gooey and buttery and everything that is gloriously Midwestern. This dip is football night in America IN MY MOUTH.
This dip is loosely based on a recipe made by one of my childhood heroes, Miss Paty, but I rediscovered a couple of variation recipes on Pinterest about a year ago when I was doing the low-carb thing. Now I just make it whenever people come over in quantity, and every time I tweak it a little to make it just right. It feels especially retro served on Ritz crackers, but it also goes good-n-fancy with rye crisps or melba toast. Or just a half-empty bag of Tostitos. No judgments.
Miss Paty called it dinosaur dip because when it is cooked the surface looks straggled, bubbly, and slightly volcanic. Things will be oozing. And hot. If you have ever seen the 1988 dinosuar-themed cinematic tour-de-force, The Land Before Time, you will recognize why she called it dinosaur dip. If you have not seen The Land Before Time, you need to get on that.
In a bowl, blend loosely:
2 Bricks of cream cheese
1 Cup mayonnaise*
5 Jalapeno’s diced, minus seeds to make it sorta-spicy, with seeds and ribs to make it crazy-spicy.
2 Cups shredded cheese (I like to mix colby and mozzarella)
5 Slices crispy bacon, crumbled
Handful of diced green onion
*When I say mayonnaise I mean Hellmann’s. There is no substitute. And if you dare make this with Miracle Whip, I will find you. I’m not going to say what I will do to you, but I will find you.
Mix it altogether and smoosh it into a parchment-lined casserole dish at least 10” wide (it might be easier to divide between 2 small pie dishes).
In a bowl, blend with a fork:
1 cup of crushed crackers (I STRONGLY recommend using Ritz, but I have tried it with saltines and oyster crackers and it was okay too).
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 stick of melted butter
Bake at 350 for 30minutes, or until gold and bubbly. It takes legitimate effort to overcook this stuff, so I suggest erring on the long side than short. The depth of the serving dish and the thickness of the dip will impact cooking time greatly, so keep that in mind.
Note: This is not the kind of dish to make at home by yourself, unless you really want to, and you have a good pair of sweatpants, and a wine slushy to cut the cream heat situation. And yes, I just used the term cream heat. If you make it for a crowd, before it goes in the oven, set aside a scoop for the next day. It’s excellent when smeared and broiled over a baked potato or crispy green beans, making this dish slightly more healthy but every bit as delicious. And it will still pair nicely with that wine slushy.