I have a serious culinary soft spot for onion dip. I'd venture to guess many of you do too. If you appreciate those flavors, it's a hard task to step away from the bowl. I grew up eating a lot of onion dip and potato chips (with ridges, of course) at every sleepover, birthday party, camping trip, and late-night movie marathon. But I'm happy to leave that plastic tub in the past in exchange for a new, much improved version of my old-school favorite.
For this Caramelized Onion Dip, I let a big pan of onions slowly (very slowly, this is key) soften and caramelize to produce an incredibly rich, nutty, sweet onion flavor and combine them with cream cheese, sour cream, and the Pollen Ranch spice blend, Hog Heaven. This blend is a mixture of fennel pollen, toasted pecans, cumin, and lemon peel, and it provides a stellar kick of warm spice to cut through the richness of cream cheese and onion.
To help the onions deeply caramelize over two hours, I used a cartouche, or a paper lid that slows the reduction of moisture while cooking and keeps browning from happening too quickly.
The name sounds fancy, but it is simple to make: take a square of parchment paper slightly larger than your pan. Fold the square in half and then half again to form a square. From there fold in half again bring the folded edges together to form a cone and fold in half one more time to make a skinnier cone. Hold the tip of the cone over the center of the pan and trim the excess where the open end of the cone meets the edge of the pan. Unfold the circle to fit inside the pan. This technique can also be used to prevent skins from forming on sauces and gravies.
Caramelized Onion Dip
4 large onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons Hog Heaven, more to taste
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and stir to coat in oil. Place cartouche over onions and allow to slowly cook for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. If the onions are browning too quickly, lower the heat.
In a food processor, combine caramelized onions, cream cheese, sour cream, and Hog Heaven. Process to smooth. Season to taste with salt and more spice as needed. I love serving this onion dip with bright root vegetable chips.
Caroline Ford is a food stylist, writer & recipe developer in Portland, OR. More of her writing can be found on her blog: Food. Write. Style.