I love Velveeta, but I feel really guilty eating it. Part of the reason is that it has a lot of modified ingredients, it certainly isn’t “clean.” That’s not the deal breaker though. I can justify almost anything on an occasional basis, even if I shouldn’t. But on top of the processed-ness, it is nearly $10 in Toronto for 500 grams (one pound). Seriously? You can buy real cheese for less than half that. No, you won’t get a full pound, but you’ll get a lot more flavor.
This is how I decided to tackle “spicy cheeseburger dip” or “rotel dip” for my Canadian colleagues, who probably have not experienced the original to begin with. To top it all off, I looked to my favorite local restaurant burger to create the flavour profile. A marriage of two beautiful things creates a thing of beauty all its own.
Some back-story: This is the second post of dips because of our Slam Dip contest at work. I do not normally make dips every week, although I cook a lot. The weather just got nice, I’d like to enjoy it, so I was not stressing. As the reigning champion of last year, I already knew the competition would be fierce because I set such a high bar for myself last year. It was also going to be hard to top my own game because my standards are always getting higher and higher.
I never look at something and think “How can I get it done?” I think, “How can I do this and make it better than everyone else’s? How can I do this and save time? How can I improve it?” As an only child, I could never differentiate myself from my siblings, I had to differentiate from everyone else in my age group. Maybe that happens a lot–only children who are overachievers.
As is generally indicative of my process, I spend hours planning what I’m going to make and maybe an hour making it. Planning is really your savior, and it makes economical sense too, when you consider the cost of ingredients and the value of your time. Not that this is news to anyone who has lived a busy life or struggled with just a tiny ounce of perfectionism.
Anyways, and then I was talking to one of my colleagues about how dips are apparently passe. Everyone just wants artisan cheeses. This is the struggle of Cast iron canteen–to take what is wholly “country” (read in this context: so bad it’s good) and make it palatable for our urban tastes that have evolved. And arguably everyone, country and city alike, appreciates more complex flavour profiles these days. We have to.
So this is where a few great things intersect–subtly seasoned ground beef that makes for a great burger base, truffle aioli (because if you haven’t had burger and truffle together, you will never want to have it any other way again) and caramelized onions with mushrooms.
This is not a spicy dip at all. Instead, it tastes like a really decadent cheeseburger with truffle. Depending on the truffle aioli you find, you can really taste the truffle. Its closest substitution would be a different variety of aioli or mayonnaise. But you can’t reasonably substitute mayonnaise and keep this dish interesting, it will lose flavour complexity and fall flat.
So try to find truffle aioli. If you can’t, I highly recommend you make a different cheeseburger dip recipe. There’s a reason truffle is in the title.
Oh yeah, and this one won at our dip contest! For most creative.
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ pound ground beef
- 2 cups yellow onions, diced
- 2 tsp butter
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 14 oz smoked cheddar, shredded
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1 cup truffle aioli (found in specialty food stores, PC Black Label in Canada or make your own)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs (for garnishing, optional)
- Season ground beef with paprika, onion powder and salt. Brown ground beef in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces until no longer pink; drain on paper towels and set aside.
- In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat just until bubbly. Add the onions to skillet and stir thoroughly to coat with butter. Increase the heat to medium high and sauté for approximately 15 minutes, stirring constantly (add a little water if they start to stick). Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes. Drain. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, truffle aioli, corn starch, corn starch and ground beef until well mixed and cheese starts to melt.
- Turn mixture into a 2 quart slow cooker. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 2 to 3 hours or until hot and bubbly.