Seven layer dip: It’s like nachos with less effort, tacos without the mess. More exciting than Chex mix, less toothpick-inducing than popcorn. Healthier than wings; not so good for you that it’ll be left shriveling in the corner of the fridge. You can make it the day prior, or toss it together 15 minutes before your guests arrive.
It just might be the king of American snack food party staples.
Plus, it’s so easy to put together you don’t even need a recipe, although we’re going to provide three — and you probably already have a favorite method of construction.
But that’s all good, noted Vintage Wine Bar general manager Britain Burgos, whose appreciation of seven layer dip reaches near-religious levels.
“Everyone you talk to makes ‘the best,’” he said, “and I tend to agree with them…
“All of them.”
How so? The Tex-Mex dish’s versatility is one of its strongest assets. The other is its universality.
“The recipes, the ingredients, the order of layers all vary,” Burgos said, “but they all have something in common: They are synonymous with social gatherings. No one makes a seven layer dip for dinner. They make them for the cookouts, the pool parties, the birthdays and the housewarmings.”
You never see a group of people standing over the dip and debating the its culinary merits, he continued. Instead, it’s “something shove in your mouth and spill on your shirt hugging someone you haven’t seen in awhile, or talking with the dude you sorta-kinda know but are really making a connection with right now. We all know the flavors are simple, crude and inelegant. But the memories are delicious.”
That said, if you want a twist on your memories this Super Bowl, here are three very different ways to do seven layer dip from some of Philly’s best chefs.
Buffalo Chicken 7 Layer Dip
Chef’s note: “Buffalo chicken anything is my weakness. What’s better than Buffalo chicken? Buffalo chicken w/ six more layers!”
¼ lb bacon (5 to 6 slices)
1 16-oz can refried beans
¾ c Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, portioned into ½ c and ¼ c
1 lb Philadelphia cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1 whole rotisserie chicken (store-bought is fine)
1½ c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¾ c salsa of choice
3 scallions, cut into small pieces
Tortilla chips, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook and render bacon until crispy; pat dry with a towel and chop, then set aside. Pick and shred meat from rotisserie chicken, mix with ½ c Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, then set aside. Remove refried beans from can, mix with remaining ¼ c Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
Begin layering in casserole bowl as follows: 1) refried beans; 2) softened cream cheese; 3) seasoned chicken; 4) shredded cheese. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes until warm and the layers have begun to blend. Top with additional layers: 5) salsa; 6) bacon; 7) scalions.
Serve with chips.
Real-Deal All-the-Way Homemade 7 Layer Dip
Layer 1: Refried beans
Buy can of Goya brand beans. Or…
½ lb pinto beans
2 sprigs epazote or fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
1 white onion mince half slice the other half
4 cloves of garlic crushed
8 tbsp lard or rendered bacon fat
In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least two inches. Add herb sprigs, sliced onion and garlic, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover with lid and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt.
After beans are tender, drain, making sure to save the cooking liquid. Discard herbs, onions and garlic.
In a large skillet, heat fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and stir, cooking until soft and lightly browned. Add beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 c cooking liquid and smash beans with potato masher or back of spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until desired consistency is reached, adding more cooking liquid to if it gets too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning throughout.
Layer 2: Guacamole
Buy a pint at a grocery store (a “reliable” source tells Macri the ACME version is good), or…
3 Haas avocados, cubed
1 red onion, minced
2 serrano chilies, stems removed, minced
2 limes, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
Add onions, chilies and lime juice to bowl. Mash with back of spoon and season with salt. Add cubed avocado and fold in onion/chili mixture, plus more salt if desired. Mash coarsely with back of spoon or potato masher. Fold in cilantro.
Layer 3: Cream cheese
Crowley’s brand, or…
2 c heavy cream
½ c whole milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
Add milk and vinegar to small bowl and stir. Let sit for 15 minutes. Add cream and stir. Pour mixture into clean container with lid. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. After 24 hours, store in fridge for a week before use.
Layer 4: Salsa
Use your preferred jarred salsa (make sure to strain some liquid so it’s dip, not soup), or…
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1 red onionc diced fine
1 clove garlic, minced
2 limes, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Mix all ingredients and season with salt to taste.
Layer 5: Cheese
Use your favorite “Mexican” or “Taco” cheese blend, or…
Shred your own. Macri recommends a mix of Birchrun Hills Farm Equinox and Calkins Creamery 1841.
Layer 6: Olives
Slice black olives or pitted kalamata olives.
Chef’s note: “Nothing fancy here, but make sure the olives are pitted because no amount of booze makes losing a tooth at a party fun — I speak from experience.”
Layer 7: Crunchy stuff
Recommended “stuff”: Sliced radish, chopped scallion, chopped iceberg lettue
Chips: Tostitos Scoops
“For facilitating optimal scoopage. If you’re a guest then be a good one and bring two bags!”
Greek 7-Layer Dip
By Bobby Saritsoglou of Opa
1 c tzatziki (store bought or see below)
1 c hummus (store bought or see below)
½ c tomato, chopped
½ c red onion, finely diced
½ c cucumber, finely diced
1 tbsp kalamata olive
1 tbsp feta cheese
Fried pita bread (or pita chips) to dip
Using a warm spoon, spread a layer of tzatziki followed by a layer of hummus. Follow with tomato, onion, cucumber, olives and feta. Serve with warmed pita.
1 c Greek yogurt
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped garlic
½ c chopped cucumbers
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
1 lb yellow peas, split
½ c extra virgin olive oil
1½ c water
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp ground cumin
⅛ c lemon juice
½ tbsp turmeric
Simmer beans in salted water until very soft but still yellow. Puree all ingredients except oil and water. Drizzle in water until smooth. Drizzle in oil until smooth.