So, when I making food for a tailgate, or even if I’m just whipping up a couple dishes to take with me when I go watch the game with my dad, there’s two dishes that are my constant go-tos.
The best part — they’re just like Tennessee’s offense: exceedingly simple yet brilliantly effective and undefeated.
Dish number one: SPINACH DIP
This one is wonderful because the good folks at Knorr put the recipe right there on the package. The basis for the whole thing is Knorr’s “Vegetable recipe mix,” and it takes fewer than 10 minutes to whip together. You will wanna do it a little bit in advance, just to it time to chill down and allow the flavors to marinate together a bit.
- one 10-ounce box of frozen, chopped spinach.
- one 16-ounce container of sour cream
- THE MOST CRITICAL PART: one cup of DUKE’S BRAND MAYONAISSE. I cannot stress that detail enough. If you try using another brand of mayo, there’s a non-zero chance your whole batch bursts into flames. Don’t go thinking you can get by unnoticed. either. The brand’s name is “Duke’s” for god sakes. Coach Krzyzewski is like Big Brother and is always watching.
- one package of aforementioned Knorr’s Vegetable recipe mix (it’s a little green packet, but it always seems to be in a different section of the grocery store when I go looking for it, so you’re on your own when it comes to finding it.
- OPTIONAL: one can (eight ounces) of water chestnuts and three green onions.
- one King’s Hawaiian Round Hawaiian Sweet Bread. These are basically just giant bread bowls.
- cook and drain spinach — draining the spinach is CRITICAL. Watery, runny dip = instant two thumbs, way down.
- combine spinach with rest of your ingredients and let chill for ideally an hour or so, but it’s not the end of the world if you’re rushed for time and don’t get the full hour of fridge time.
- take a knife — make sure it’s not too sharp so you dullards (like me) don’t go cutting yourselves, and hollow out the King’s Hawaiian bread bowl. You wanna leave a little bread still on the interior, but get most of it out, because the extracted chunk is your built-in delivery system, from dip to mouth.
- spinach mix goes into the bread bowl, and then you use the hollowed out part of the bread bowl for dipping.
And that’s it. Literally. Take it to your next tailgate and thank me later.
Dish number two: BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP
This one’s especially brilliant because of the aesthetic... it’s orange!
But, full disclosure, it’s a little less, ummm, precise, with the measurements. This is the South, after all, and we ain’t so keen on “exact.” We don’t do “teaspoons of salt.” Instead, it’s “a pinch or two,” or “just a skosh,” Before I digress further about Southern idiosyncrasies, the general guidelines:
- two cooked chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- a block of cream cheese — which, I think, is 16 ounces. But, ya know, we’re doing this one by feel, right?
- a half-ish cup of DUKE’S BRAND MAYO (and again, use an inferior product at your own risk, but don’t come back whining to me when your friends kicked you outta the tailgate because your dip sucked.)
- a bottle of hot sauce — I usually go Frank’s.
- one packet of ranch seasoning
- chopped green onions — totally optional
Once you’ve got your ingredients, you just melt the cream cheese, stir in the shredded chicken and DUKE’S BRAND MAYO, then add the hot sauce and ranch seasoning bit by bit, until you hit your preferred level of heat/ ranchy-ness.
I’ve never gotten anything but rave reviews at tailgates when I’ve brought these dishes, and I’ve got the cooking skills of a small child. Simple, effective, delicious.