If there’s one thing that every picnic needs, it’s a good, crowd-pleaser kind of dip. In fact, I would say that about most parties. Most gatherings, even. Basically, if there are more than four people, there needs to be some sort of dip in the mix. Why a dip? Dips are easy. They’re satisfying. And, best of all, they set the tone for any menu you could dream up.
Let’s dive in, and talk about some basic rules to dip by:
1. Texture is key!
There’s nothing worse than digging your potato chip into a big bowl of sour cream and onion dip and breaking your chip in half trying to scoop it into your drooling mouth. And then breaking it in half again when you try to perform a rescue operation. And then breaking it a third time and realizing that you’ve actually just added so many splinters of potato chips to the bowl that it might not even be dip any more.
Conversely, there is nothing that makes me judge a cook faster than a dip so liquid that it runs off of your vehicle. What I’m getting at is that nailing the texture of a dip is of the utmost importance. It needs to be scoop-able by a variety of vehicles, be it chip, vegetable, or hunk of bread, and it must have enough body to stand up to a brief moment of gravity as it makes its way to your mouth. Keep this in mind as you’re mixing up your dip of choice, and adjust accordingly.
2. Take your guests on a journey.
If you’re serving tacos for the evening, you’re probably already planning on making guac. But what about lamb kebabs? What about fried chicken? Though not every meal has an instantly recognizable dip sidekick, get creative and come up with a dish that ties into what your guests will be eating later that night. Incorporate a flavor that will come up later in the main dish and choose a dip that will complement the main, too — chances are, your guests will dig in and add some dip to their dinner plates!
3. Get creative with your dippers.
I love pita chips as much as the next girl (which is the polite way of saying I can put away a bag by myself), but they get a little ho-hum after a while. Dig through your fridge and cabinets to find some off-the-beaten-dippers. I love slices of zucchini, crisp leaves of Gotham Greens lettuce, radishes, and even leftover pizza that I cut into strips! Think about what would go best with your dip, and go crazy.
4. Yogurt is your friend.
When all else fails, and you’re staring into the fridge, hoping to see an extra tub of dip that you forgot you had, find a yogurt friend. Greek yogurt is perhaps the easiest and most versatile way to make a dip from practically nothing. Yogurt + roughly chopped herbs + any lemon juice you have is a fan favorite at my house, and we can go through a tub in a night. Stir Sriracha into Greek yogurt for a spicy, tangy trip for your tastebuds. Add crispy chili crunch oil to the top of a half-eaten container of yogurt and watch something good turn into something great. The possibilities are endless.
Learn how to make Chicken and Vegetable Yakitori with Spicy Sesame Dipping Sauce in The Chopping Block's upcoming grilling class: Backyard Benihana Demo on the Patio on Sunday, August 8 at 11am at Lincoln Square.