Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bacon and Blue Dip

I love dips. That's the best part about eating chips and crackers. And maybe veggies, too. I recently attended two finger food potlucks. The question always is: What should I take? I want to take something I haven't done before because that's part of the joy of cooking ... trying something new. I love bacon. I love blue cheese. So, I figured this recipe that I clipped from Southern Living magazine had to be good. It was really similar to my stuffed pork chop recipe, so I went with it. One word: YUM! OK, a few more words. I love the smoothness of the cream and blue cheeses melted together. And, the crunch of the toasted nuts is a very nice juxtaposition to that creaminess. And, what's not to love about bacon? Add some sweet apples as the dippers and you approach sweet-savory perfection. I mixed the recipe up a little for a quicker prep. This is what I did.

Hot Bacon and Blue Dip

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup half-and-half
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 jars real bacon bits
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped green onions
3 tbsp chopped pecans, toasted
Apples, crackers and flatbread

1. Beat the cream cheese and half-and-half with mixer until smooth. Add bacon, onions and liquid smoke. Mix until combined.
2. Heat olive oil in small skillet. Add garlic and saute. Add to bacon and cheese mixture.
3. Spoon into 4 (1-cup) baking dishes (ramekins work really well) or into 1 quart casserole dish.
4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Sprinkle evening with chopped pecans. Serve with apples wedges, crackers or flatbread.

Substitution Suggestions: The original recipe called for walnuts and chives instead of pecans and green onions. I like my version better, but the other will obviously work.
The original also called for real bacon. If you have the time for that, here is the alternate cooking direction. For this, omit the olive oil and use the bacon renderings instead. It requires seven pieces of bacon (though knowing me, I'd double it!).
Cook chopped bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until crisp. Drain bacon, and set aside. Add minced garlic to skillet, and sauté 1 minute.

Lessons Learned: This dip is definitely best served hot (or warm) and it does reheat well if you remove the nuts (which went a little soggy in the fridge). You could probably also use this as the stuffing for the aforementioned pork chop recipe, but I'd add chopped apples to the mix before stuffing the meat. I really liked the sweetness of the Fuji apples with the saltiness of the dip. I received compliments on this dip both times I served it, so it earns a place in my permanent cooking annals.

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