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I beg your forgiveness, Mayfield, but your French onion dip can't hold a candle to homemade. And most cooks have what it takes on hand to create some of the most-luscious French onion dip you could ever imagine. The most difficult task involved in creating this dip is caramelizing the onions, and how hard is that? Not hard at all. It just takes a little time and patience to reach that amazing depth of flavor that only caramelizing can do.

Caramelization is the key to this dip, and like most of life, wine helps, but water can also soften things up for you if you'd rather save your wine for sipping. What matters most here is time, a cast-iron skillet, a knob of butter, some salt and that all-important sugar that brings out the sweetness in the onions and aids in the caramelization process. You want the onions to achieve a deep golden brown color. My rule of thumb is that once I think they look pretty good, I give them another 10 minutes just to be safe, and I'm always glad I did. The end result is onions that are deep, dark, sweet, soft and fragrant.

It's not the prettiest dip, but look past its outward appearance and envision a future for this caramelized onion dip that includes sandwich spreads, and maybe even a little something to give your morning eggs a little zip.

A bowl of this dip will do wonders for your Labor Day burgers. Make it a day ahead to give it time for the flavors to marry, then set a big bowl of it on the table along with other condiments. Use it as a spread for burgers and a dip for chips. It's the kind of dip that will easily pull double duty.

With two cups of sour cream and a full 8 ounces of cream cheese, one recipe makes enough to feed a crowd. If it's just you and one other, the recipe can be easily halved. But that's still quite a bit of dip. Fortunately, it lasts for several days covered and placed in your refrigerator.

 

Caramelized French Onion Dip

3 large yellow onions

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons each salt and sugar

1/4 cup white wine

16 ounces sour cream

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

Chopped fresh parsley, to taste (optional)

Soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Peel the onions, and slice them very thinly. A mandoline is good for this. If you don't have one, slice as thinly as possible.

Heat the butter in a a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, use a good thick-bottomed pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and sugar, and saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Pour a little bit of wine in, and let it sizzle out. Stir, add remaining wine and let it sizzle off. After about 30 minutes, your onions should be ready.

Transfer onions to a cutting board, and chop coarsely into small pieces. Mix the sour cream and cream cheese. Mix in the onions and a handful of fresh parsley, if using. Add a splash of soy sauce and/or Worcestershire. This just gives it a little depth of flavor. Serve with chips or crackers. Also excellent on burgers.

 

Venturing out

While the idea of dining in is still scary for some people, the thought of traveling outside the city limits for dinner is totally off their radar. I've been cautiously dining in at home after spending the past few months getting curbside takeout or using one of the meal-delivery businesses, such as Uber Eats, which gets too expensive because of the add-on costs. A recent delivery of a Mexican meal for two adults and two kids cost me $82.05 after a 10% tip, tax and an $8 service charge plus a small delivery fee. A bit excessive, I believe.

As much as I love my home, I'm getting a little tired of looking at the same four walls. That in mind, I made the drive to Atlanta last week and had dinner at JCT Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant I'd been wanting to try for quite some time. Chef Ford Fry, a James Beard Award semifinalist, has 11 restaurants in Georgia. JCT Kitchen was his first, and though it hasn't received the high accolades that several of his other restaurants have garnered, I think JCT may be his best with his combination of beautiful, fresh ingredients and clever take on Southern fare.

His Meat and Potatoes dish contains fork-tender pot roast, crispy potatoes and carrots. The house-made agnolotti (ravioli) is filled with tangy goat cheese and served in a creamy sauce with heirloom tomatoes and thick pieces of bacon — outstanding. Reservations are highly recommended, as social distancing means restaurants are working on half capacity.

The restaurant is tucked away in the back of Atlanta's Urban Westside Market off Howell Mill Road. Though somewhat off the beaten path, it's well worth the extra minute it may take to find it. James Beard Awards aren't given to just any chef, after all. If you can't make it to Atlanta, you'll find James Beard finalists in Chattanooga at Easy Bistro (chef Erik Niel); Slick's Burgers (chef Rebecca Barron); and at Alleia (chef Daniel Lindley).

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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