Tortilla Chip-throttling Insanity: Spicy Layered Bean Dip with Chorizo. - Something Edible
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Tortilla Chip-throttling Insanity: Spicy Layered Bean Dip with Chorizo.

Tortilla Chip-throttling Insanity: Spicy Layered Bean Dip with Chorizo.

Abstract: Bean dip by itself doesn't really inspire thoughts of ultimate party snacking. However, if you throw down some chorizo, followed by tomatoes and chiles, followed by chipotle sour cream, followed by two kinds of cheeses, well now people are going to take interest. You'd better put a spoon in it, 'cuz nary a chip can survive the dip in that dish. If I'm putting out bean dip for a spread at a party or picnic, this layered lovely is how I do it.

Purpose: A long time ago in a suburban bedroom town far, far, away, I worked at a grocery store (I know; go figure, right?). I usually worked the closing shift, and the shift manager and I would often find ourselves talking about food; and almost never for the sake of work. While facing the dairy case one evening, I was complaining about not knowing what type of nosh to bring for a Spanish Club party, and was met with a tub of sour cream. The monologue that followed went something like this -

"Go get you some of that taco seasoning mix on aisle three and stir in into this. Spread it over refried beans and sprinkle shredded cheese on top of the whole thing. The shit is goo-oo-od."

Yeah, he wasn't kidding. I've been making variations on that very same layered bean dip joint for the last twenty years, and it still holds up. However, it's not in my nature to leave well-enough alone. My layered bean dip recipe has evolved over the years into something that only the strongest of tortilla chips can survive. The basics are still there: a creamy and spicy center that brings together a foundation of refried beans and a tangy layer of shredded cheese. However, after many a cry from guests suffering from alcohol-induced carnivorous tendencies, I've looked for a way to add meat to the mix without spoiling the texture of the dip. In that respect, the rich flavors and delicate texture of chorizo works perfectly. While I was at it, I just went ahead and practically made it a meal by adding veggies in the form of tomatoes, chiles olives, and green onion.

Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -

  • 10 oz fresh chorizo casings removed
  • 10 oz diced tomatoes and green chiles drained (Pick your favorite flavor.)
  • 8 oz sour cream (reduced-fat is ok here)
  • 2 canned chipolte chiles diced; + 1 tsp of the adobo
  • 2 tsp key lime juice
  • 15 oz refried beans (One standard can's worth; fat-free is fine.)
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack cheese shredded (about a cup's worth)
  • 4 oz mild Cheddar cheese shredded (again, about a cup's worth)
  • 1 1/2 oz large black olives sliced for garnish (about a dozen olives.)
  • 2 green onions chopped on the bias (again, for garnish)

  • Brown chroizo over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, drain grease and set the sausage aside to cool. After the tomatoes and chiles are drained, reserve 2 tbsp of said solanaceae blend for garnish. Meanwhile, whisk together sour cream, chipotles, adobo, and lime. Next, into a 9x9 inch baking dish, layer beans, chorizo, tomatoes and chiles, sour cream blend, and both cheeses. Garnish with olives, green onions, and reserved tomatoes and chiles. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (with tortilla chips, duh).


    • I'm not gonna sugar-coat it - This ain't health food; especially if you bury half a tray by yourself.  That said, as I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as good low-fat chorizo, I like to clear my conscience in the same way that folks prefer to smoke light cigarettes and use a fat-free or even vegetarian(!) refried beans and a reduced-fat sour cream.
    • If you've not cooked fresh chorizo before, don't expect the same sort of texture when cooked-thru as you would from ground beef or breakfast-style pork sausage. If you overcook, then said forcemeat's rich buttery texture will be squandered.
    • If chorizo's just not your thing, leave it out, or consider using a Cajun or Italian style bratwurst, or just skip the sausage altogether (wuss).
    • Re: the diced tomatoes and chiles, I get the kind that they spike with habanero, but if you like things tamer, the garlic lime variety is good too. Whatever flavor you get, be sure to drain away that liquid; but don't toss it - it actually works great in a Bloody Mary. Consider it your reward for a bean dip well-done.
    • For crying out loud, grate your own cheese. A good box grater is neither hard to operate, nor will it break the bank. Pre-grated cheese has two strikes against it right out of that "zip-top-flavor-fresh" bag. First, it's had more of its surface area exposed, so the flavor of the cheese has already been compromised, and it won't keep as long. Second, They coat that stuff in an anti-caking agent. You wanna pay for cheese or you wanna pay for processed cellulose?
    • You can eat this stuff as soon as it's assembled, but a few hours covered in the fridge ain't gonna hurt it either. It might even be a good idea to do so if you plan on leaving the stuff out on your snack table for a bit.

    Results: Most any deli counter-equipped supermarket worth its salt usually produces a layered bean dip that contains something that usually approximates guacamole.  A good guacamole should stand on its own; so while there's plenty going on in this particular layered bean dip, there's no need to be ridiculous, nor is there reason to use one dip as a crutch for another. As it takes all of fifteen minutes to put this stuff together, we're talking a minimal amount of time involved to put together a monumental bean dip.

    I understand that there's a big football game of sorts coming up that happens about this same time every year. While you don't really need an excuse to make this bean dip, I bet said bowl occasion would be a super opportunity. This bean dip is a blitz of textures and flavors that will have folks rushing back to the snack table while expressing audible lauds between mouthfuls. Even if "foozeball" ain't your thing, noone's gonna complain if this dip and a bag of chips is all you ever bring to every one of your upcoming summer picnics and/or potlucks.

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