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RBR Tailgating: Delightful duo of delectable dips & spreads

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An absolute requirement for any tailgate worth its salt

“You ever done dip recipes?

I love me some chips n dips.

Just a suggestion.”

- Piper TJ

That was from the comments of the first Tailgate of this very young season. There was a back and forth where Piper TJ recommended that I not ignore the multi-layer dip stuff. I am ignoring that multi-layer dip stuff today. I promise to get to it later, though. For the moment, I’m considering layers of flavor. See what I did there?

I don’t think I’d be going too far out on a limb if I stated with no proof, research, or effort to verify that the two most popular dips amongst my fellow football enthusiasts would be French onion dip and salsa.

As I pointed out on these electronic pages two seasons ago, there’s very little je ne sais quoi in the Californian concoction popularized by a Scottish company that is popularly known as “French” onion dip. If you really want to wow your guests with an onion dip, this Roman version impresses with both flavor and presentation.

Last year I wrote about my favorite salsa recipe for the season opener. I presented it as a taco sauce, but it’s the most scoopable chip dip in my repertoire. I make a pint or so every two weeks just to have on hand. I use a full jalapeno, seeds and all, for unpredictability. Jalapenos can be mild or blistering with no outward sign of intent. You never quite know what you’re getting with them. Some week’s burn, some week’s don’t. Every week’s product is awesome on eggs Sunday morning.

If I were to assume a third dip to fall into my imagined chip immersion popularity rankings, I’d probably choose that mildly spicy cheesy thing with tomatoes and sausage. It’s the thing that requires that slightly smaller than useful crock pot to keep it warm. For whatever reason, I equate it with the Midwest. I think I’m right in calling it Rotel dip, but I’d need a Big 10 fan to confirm (I say Purdue and summon thee.)

I don’t really know what it’s called. Whether or not it’s actually a Big 10 tailgate staple, in my mind, it is. Also in my mind, unlike the vibrant South where cuisine is evocative of place, the West Coast, where menus recklessly and brilliantly flirt with whatever the zeitgeist was up to a minute or two ago, the East Coast (by which I mean New York) where entrenched influences re-invent themselves ad infinitum, the Big 10 imprint, with the obvious exception of Chicago, seems to the outsider like a place where people reheat things.

The usual version of supposed Rotel is Velveeta with a bit of sausage and canned tomatoes stirred up and simmered till the directions tell you to stop. We can do better. We can take this simple little dish that takes practically no effort at all and Kiffin the hell out of it.

Rotel Dip, but with extra effort and love

- 2 tbsp. butter

- 2 tbsp. all purpose flour

- whole milk, 1 pint and more as needed

- Tobasco Sauce

- 1 handful shredded cheddar cheese

- 1 handful crumbled Italian sausage, pre- cooked

- 1 small tomato, deseeded and diced

- Hatch chiles

- Salt and pepper to taste

This takes a bit of attention so don’t wander off mid cooking. Start by putting the butter and flour in a sauce pan and whisking over medium to high heat. It should get grainy.

If you’ve never done this before, congrats. You have made a roux.

Slowly stir in a few glugs of milk. Keep whisking, and when it starts to consolidate, stir in a few more glugs, repeat until the full pint is in. Never stop whisking. Now you’ve made a Bechamel, one of the five mother sauces of French cooking.

Once you have the full pint of milk folded in, add a bit of cheese, whisk, more cheese, whisk… Now you’ve taken a Bechamel and turned it into more or less a Mornay Sauce. A classic Mornay would use Gruyere instead of cheddar, but ‘Merica.

Once you have a dippable consistency, add the sausage, chilis, and tomato, more milk to thin things if needed, and serve.

It’s pretty good with a few corn chips.

Spreads are not a far leap away from dips. Both are about getting stuff on other stuff.

The penultimate spread is tapenade. It’s an olive paste with capers, cayenne, garlic, anchovy, parsley, and cognac. If you want to give it a try, and you do, the recipe is unjustly subsumed in a post about a chicken sandwich here. It’s brilliantly salty and works with a dry white wine, a crisp sparkling, a light red, or a Coors Light. It’s just good.

The ultimate spread is rillette. Or, the ultimate spread are rillettes. In eighth grade I took French 1. In ninth grade I retook French 1. In tenth grade I took French 2. In eleventh grade I retook French 2. Needing to get the third year to graduate, I busted my ass and barely scored on the right side of the ledger in French 3, so I’m no authority on which is plural. “Rillette” or “rillettes.” I’m going forward with “rillettes,” which is likely wrong.

Anyway, this is making pig a condiment.

Rillettes

- 1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1 - 2 inch pieces

- ¼ cup fat - this can be vegetable oil, lard, whatever - I used duck fat and it was brilliant

- 1 rough cut shallot

- 3 halved garlic cloves

- 2 bay leaves

- dry white wine, a few glugs

- salt, more than you think

This sounds so complex when you explain it to your friends, but it’s astonishingly easy and will make you the tailgate hero.

Preheat an oven to 275˚.

Put all that stuff that I listed in an oven proof container. That’s pretty much the recipe. Put the pork on the bottom and the other stuff on top as you’ll want to remove the other stuff after cooking. Cover with foil. Put in the oven and go away for three hours.

After three hours, remove the dish from the oven and let rest for ten minutes. Pick the shallots, garlic, and herbs out and drain the remainder through a sieve over a bowl. You don’t want to lose those liquids. Reserve them.

Depending on your kitchen, put the pork in a bowl and shred with a fork or put the pork in a mixer/food processor with a paddle attachment and make mush. Thin as needed with the reserved liquid.

Keep in mind that this will ideally be served at less than room temperature, so over salt. The cooler things get, the less assertive salt is.

Pack the rillettes in a container and cap with some of the reserved liquid fats. Refrigerate immediately. Twenty four hours later you have spreadable gold.

Best on crusty bread brushed with olive oil and a little salt. Set it out and let the game watchers graze.

Enjoy, no injuries, and Roll Tide.