Ciao'd while watching Chopped Junior. Really?


Like so many cooks, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The pre-game starts a week or two before the holiday and with each day comes a task or two. Stir up the cranberry sauce and roll the pie crusts (freeze 'em). Chop vegetables for the dressing and bake off those pies. Before you know it, you've cruised into the day before the big day (yes, you can make your mashed potatoes the day before). Set the table. Stock the bar. Finally, the kick-off! Chill the wine. Bring the turkey to room temp, season it and stick it in the oven. Cue the seductive aroma that lures guests into the kitchen. We all know this. You can create a magnificent hors d'oeuvres presentation on the sideboard and a lovely selection on your bar cart but everybody slinks into the kitchen - and stays. It's a tailgate for the big game aka dinner. 

As time has tumbled the years, the years have tumbled me, too. Count the wrinkles. I used to insist on making EVERYTHING for Thanksgiving. The turkey. The dressing. The sideshows. The pies. Even the rolls, God help me. When family and friends asked, "What can I bring,?" it was all I could do to sputter, "Wine." 

But now I've seen the light. I've quarterbacked many a holiday but I've realized that there are some plays I dread. I am not a baker. The pie crusts know this and they always fight back, shrinking in the pie pan. I would rather not make the appetizers either, but I  realize that if I assign that task to a guest, she/he may arrive late and that is so not cool. Fumble in the end zone.

So here's my theory re: appetizers: If you are relegated to making the appetizers, you can always buy them (shout out to Trader Joe's stuffed mushrooms). If I were a bigger person, I would do the same. You can serve shrimp cocktail (and you should) and maybe even a crudité platter for those guests who refuse to cast aside their CrossFit and Paleo diets.  

Hear me on this, though. While the turkey is roasting, the football games are toasting. That means a dip. That means a time-honored dip. And yes, my teammates, that means Onion Dip. Sure, you can opt for the soup mix based dip, no judgment, but why not make it from scratch? It's super easy and yes, you'll exalt in the applause from the spectators. After all, isn't this what playing for a crowd is all about? 

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This onion dip is "honest" because it's homemade and "good" because it's downright delish. Its sweet caramelized flavor and sinfully creamy texture make this dip irresistible. If you have the time, refrigerate it overnight and the flavors will sing even more harmoniously. Serve with potato chips, crackers, or vegetables.

Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Dash (or more) of hot sauce
Chopped chives, for garnish

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions, a generous dash of salt, and the thyme and sautéuntil just beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden brown, another 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl and let cool.

Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, and lemon juice to the onions and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste. Garnish with the chives.  

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