Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Supermarket Beer, as voted by readers: Kate Bernot!
This week, the topic is party dips. Anything you can dip chips, pita, crackers or bread into qualifies. The randomizer has selected a draft order:
1. Kate Bernot
2. Kevin Pang
3. Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Kate Bernot: Alright, with the number one overall pick—(Jock Jams music plays)—I choose: Queso Fundido
KB: Cheese meat melty goodness. There is no more compulsively snackable dip to me.
Kevin Pang: To be clear, the “fundido” variant contains chorizo, while the standard queso recipe is just Velveeta + Rotel
KB: Correct, I like the chorizo spice
You might even get a hint of smoke and paprika in there, delicious.
KP: Well, am I ever glad that you chose that, because I thought there’s no way this would’ve fallen to No. 2, but here we are: Guacamole. Is there ever a dip, technically a fruit dip, that is as luscious, bright, and creamy as guac? Its natural richness really is a miracle via Mother Nature.
KB: Hard to argue with guac, except that there’s no cheese or meat in guac, so.
KP: And the fact that it’s extremely perishable makes it feel exclusive
Cheese is needed if you need additional fats and richness, which guacamole doesn’t need.
And as for meat, you can easily add bacon crumbles
Or, chicharron crumbles
Oh hell, just scoop guacamole up with chicharrones
KB: Plus I know you love the peas in there, Kevin. (kidding)
KP: I actually don’t mind, though I haven’t tried. I’m sure it’s delicious.
I wasn’t one of those Guacists with flaming torches and battering rams.
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer: I’m going to be deeply American for just a second here, and echo Kate’s appreciation for a meaty dip, with Buffalo Chicken Dip. The cream cheese base takes off most of the heat, leaving you free to house that ranch or blue cheese-and-hot sauce combination that makes eating wings such a joy.
I’m regularly appalled by how much of this I can put down in a sitting.
KB: It’s a liquid meal, and I am here for it.
DSM: Also, it feels like every restaurant selling pub food now has some kind of a variant on it, usually as a roll.
KP: Man do I love making Buffalo Chicken Dip in a slow cooker
I want to experiment with different hot sauces apart from my usual Crystal
DSM: And since I get two in a row to start, I’m going to grab Salsa Roja while it’s still on the board.
I’ll generally take a pureed salsa over a chunkier one, and it’s hard to think of a dip this good that’s also as easy to make as it is.
Ideally accompanied by some ground-in chiles to really scorch the mouth a little.
KP: Salsa is a wide category, and I can’t disagree that red salsa is classic for a reason.
I wonder if we’ll see salsa again in the later rounds?
My next pick was going to be my original first-round pick, but luckily guacamole fell to me. And I’m absolutely ecstatic that it’s still available in the 5th spot: French Onion Dip. Oh my God is it delicious, especially with potato chips. Once again, Mother Nature provides the natural sweetness from the onions, slow cooked until it’s a tawny and caramelized and then mixed with sour cream. And I love anything where I can add fresh chives to it.
By the way, Ina Garten’s recipe is the one we swear by.
KB: Ugh, I knew that would go fast.
It is such a good dip, Ruffles’ perfect mate.
KP: I’m usually not a fan of plain-flavored potato chips, but French Onion Dip is the only reason I’ll eat Ruffles
KB: I need no such excuse.
KB: Alright, for my second-round pick, the dip that gives you 7 dips in one: 7-layer Dip
This is my Super Bowl party piece de resistance every year, a cornucopia of flavors and textures that despite their variation all come together to sing in harmony.
My 7-layer dip costs like $30 to make, but I love it so.
DSM: Now I have to ask what your preferred seven layers are.
KP: Are you one of those people who believes the seven layers need to be uniform?
Like a Chicago hot dog have a specific assemblage?
KB: Guac (1), sour cream + cream cheese + taco seasoning (2), black olives (3), scallions (4), shredded cheeses (5), chunky tomatoes (6), refried beans (7)
That’s how I make mine
They shouldn’t be of uniform thickness, I don’t think, because I’d definitely want more sour cream than scallions, for example.
DSM: Now comes the point in the dip Draft at which I’m very, very hungry.
KP: 7-Layer Dip is one of the few dips that require a specific bowl or dish: Glass
KB: Gotta show off those layers, like sand art.
Very excited to be able to pick what surely everyone else wanted to choose: Hot Crab Dip
I don’t know how to explain my affection for hot crab dip. I want to get all food-writer on it and say something about sumptuous seafood lumps and slight brine and whatever, but truly I just love the gluttonous, rich creaminess of it.
DSM: Of all the notable fish-centric dips, this is by far my favorite. Another meal unto itself.
KP: I’m also certain no one will choose this but I have to give a shoutout to hot clam dip—really any seafood incorporated into a dip is A-OK
Let’s give proper representation to the South: Pimento Cheese. Sharp cheddar and mayo, with jarred pimento peppers. This is great, of course, as a dip, but the first time I had a grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese, it was in North Carolina and it blew my mind into a million pieces.
KB: That’s a great point: We should experiment with dips-as-sauces more.
Why not sour cream and onion dip on a turkey sandwich?
DSM: Pleasantly surprised this fell to me, so let’s go with Hummus next. Chickpeas, tahini, lemon, delicious.
KP: Yeah, wow, hummus fell to the third round?
DSM: A nice chameleon, in that it pairs nicely with just about anything. Red pepper tops the list, for my money.
KB: Eh, I could live without hummus, honestly. But maybe I’ve just never had really good hummus.
DSM: And to keep the cheesy, creamy dip train rolling: Beer Cheese, which has to be the best thing that flat beer has done for society.
It’s decadent, it’s heavy, it’s a dip in which you want to smother a huge pretzel.
KB: Amen to that.
KP: I know Dom just selected hummus but I think its Mediterranean cousin is just as satisfying, if not better: Baba Ghanoush. It’s really all about that eggplant charred to the point of interior creaminess, plus picking up some of that grill. And I love anything with the sesame richness of tahini. To me it’s a binge-worthy dip.
One of life’s pleasures is a freshly baked pita, soft, warm and pliable, scooping into cool smoked eggplant dip.
KB: Eggplant dip is what encouraged me to finally embrace eggplant.
Not a huge fan of it in other forms
OK, for my next choice, let’s go with something a little different from the cheese- and cream-heavy options here: Peanut Sauce
To me, spring rolls are mainly a vehicle for delivering peanut sauce to my face.
It’s not just that I love the salty-tangy flavors of peanut sauces, which I do, but I love their viscosity.
KP: This goes to an important philosophical point: What is the difference between dips and sauces?
To me, a dip is the main attraction. Bread is the delivery vehicle for hot crab dip.
Sauce, on the other hand, augments the dipping vehicle.
DSM: And yet I think of peanut sauce as the main event with chicken satay, for example.
It’s a sauce in name that can function as either?
KP: Respectfully, Dom, I gotta get you some better chicken satay if the peanut sauce is the main event!
(or it must be really great peanut sauce)
KB: For me, peanut sauce is a dip because I’m dipping spring rolls or veggies into it, and I order spring rolls almost solely because I want the dipping sauce.
KB: But it’s a fine line, rhetorically.
Alright, and for my last pick: Artichoke Dip
KP: Well damn, that was mine
KB: I prefer it sans spinach, as I think many restaurants rely too heavily on the spinach.
But when you really get lumps of artichoke in there, that earthiness is very satisfying.
KP: For my last pick: Fondue, baby. The only dip in this draft containing booze.
Delightfully retro, great with bread, meats, or even additional cheeses.
That’s the way to live: Dip your cheese into cheese
The first time I had fondue was, in fact, in Switzerland. I was so excited and overate, and I paid dearly that night.
But that fondue was some stinky and delicious cheese.
KB: I am not as on board the fondue wave as you, Kevin, but I do respect that it has booze in it (so does beer cheese).
KP: Oh you’re right, beer cheese does have booze
Well, the booze in fondue has twice the alcohol.
KB: Hah, the booziest of all dips!
DSM: We’ve talked about a lot of delicious dips here today, but all of our talk has been of savory, salty, and/or earthy dips.
DSM: I would like to pay respect to dips meant for the dessert hours, and in that spirit, let’s conclude with Cheesecake Dip.
DSM: I was close to going with cannoli dip as well, but that felt even more like cheating.
This is perfect if you’re like me and your success-failure average with baking is not all that great.
KP: I can’t remember the last time I had this. Do you dip, what, strawberries into it?
KB: Brb, googling recipes for cheesecake dip
DSM: Strawberries, yeah. And you crumble some graham crackers over the top for a nice “crust.”
KP: Or maybe you dip it with a spoon?
DSM: When it comes to dessert dips, I feel like eating them on their own is perfectly acceptable.
Who won this week’s draft? Your vote matters!