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Saturday, October 16, 2010

one last bite of summer

We hadn’t seen Sarah and Tim in a while. Sarah’s a doctor – I’ve followed her around the ER a little bit – and Tim is a lawyer, so it’s a pretty good match for us. (Because Kaytie’s a lawyer, and I’m in med school.) As a side note, they also have one of the best babies I’ve ever met. She's not quite as cute as Aubrey, but it's a pretty close competition.

Anyway, our schedules finally aligned a couple weeks ago, so we planned to have a glass of wine at their house. Well, we don’t like to go anywhere without food, and I hadn’t cooked anything in a while, so I thought I’d make a dip. Something on the lighter side, fresh-tasting. Something that just catches the tail end of the summer produce.

And now, here is the most thorough recipe for dip that you will EVER read.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
(makes about 3 cups)

2-3 red bell peppers
2 ears of corn, husks on
2 shallots, diced small
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped fine
3-4 slices bacon
½ cup manchego cheese, grated superfine
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
salt & pepper

Roast your peppers. Preheat your oven to 425. Remove seeds and ribs and cut peppers into large slices. (the larger, the better) Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil, and spray it with Pam. Lay your peppers out, skin side up, and slide them in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, and then broil ‘em until the skin blisters and blackens all over. Let them cool.

Cook your bacon. Crispy is good, but burned is bad. I usually cut my slices in half, cook them over medium heat, and flip them often. Once the bacon is cooked, lay it out on paper towels. As soon as it is cool enough to touch, crumble it into a food processor, but reserve a little bit (about ½ tsp) of crumbs for garnish. Pulverize the rest of it in the food processor into very, very small crumbs.

If you still have bacon grease in the frying pan, use it to sauté your shallots over medium heat until they’re just translucent. If you tossed the grease already, just use a little olive oil. Set the shallots aside.

I like grilled corn. A lot. So, instead of just draining a can of corn and using that (which you can do if you want), I decided to grill the corn and slice it off the cob. Basically, pull as much of the silk off as you can, rewrap the corn with the husks, and soak them for 10-15 minutes so the water soaks up into the husks. Grill for about 5-10 minutes on each side. Wear some leather gloves and work quickly as you shuck the husks off the corn and throw them back on the grill. Keep an eye on them and rotate to brown the corn a little bit. When it cools down a little, slice it off the cob. Reserve a little for garnish.

Okay, time to do some stirring. Combine the mayo, sour cream, basil, bacon, shallots, and corn in a mixing bowl. Stir it up and add the cheese. By the way, pretty much any hard cheese would be good – I used manchego (I think – it might have been gruyere - I can't remember) because we had it in the fridge. Also, I used a microplane to grate it so fine it was fluffy.

Back to the peppers. Once they’re cool enough to handle, you need to get the peels off. This is a messy and slightly annoying task, but it’s worth it. Home-roasted peppers are SO much better than the ones you buy in a jar.

Puree the peeled peppers in the food processor. Add the resulting mush to the dip that you’ve already mixed. Stir well. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Put it in a serving bowl, and garnish with the corn kernels and bacon crumbles. You could add some julienned basil, too. You can serve this right away, but I think it benefits from a couple hours in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. That gives it time for the flavors to marry.

We served this with plain pita chips. It would be great with Fritos, too.

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