We’ve all had it: that mushed mess that always makes it to a potluck, a bastardization of everything good about dips. Truly evidence that many good things put together don’t make one great masterpiece. A frankenstein of a side dish. Preparing sustenance for the middle schooler’s birthday sleepover, along with the traditional staples of puffy cheetos and M&Ms, padre brought home a sub-par ‘seven-layer dip’ from a not so sub-par grocery chain. First question: what middle schoolers like seven-layer dip? Second question: we’ve never bought seven-layer dip, jamais, so why now? Padre’s logic aside, I was determined to vindicate this dish, to prove to the world that a seven-layer dip can be more than a sloppy, bland bowl of blech.
First off: no olives. For an accompaniment loosely based on mexican (tex-mex, really) cuisine, who thought that olives would fit in with the taste profile? They don’t even originate from the same continent as the majority of the other ingredients. So no. No olives allowed.
The second offense of most attempts is the refried bean base. Personally, I find no bean superior to the black bean. Having learned to divvy up a batch into small containers and freeze for later use, black beans have become much more accessible in daily cooking when you don’t have to plan an entire day before (ain’t nobody got time for that!).
No, I did not make the guacamole, you can I guess if you don’t have a reputable guac dealer, but I luckily have a reputable and stable supply of only the dankest guac that ever guac-ed. Two batches were made: one with regular guacamole and a habanero variation. The smallest of grievances I have is that the spice of the habanero variety is not consistent. In this instance, it was hiccup inducing, runny nose, make your eyes water spicy. Just the way I like it.
So we’ve got two layers, five more to go. For layers three, four, five, and six, sorry, I cheated. Originally envisioned as a deconstructed pico de gallo – layers of tomatoes, onions, jalepeños, cilantro – I used an already assembled mixture from the guac dealer for time’s sake.
Final layer: shredded queso fresco. The offending version had some assortment of cheddar, or colby, something orange, again clashing with taste profile. Instead, I chose a variety I felt more appropriate for the task at hand.
To finish it off, I gave it a good crisping under the broiler. Seemed like a decent idea, but the cheese quickly cooled, forming a rather hard shell, not easily broken by a chip looking to get a taste of each layer in one bite. In the future I’d stick with the un-broiled iteration for ease of eatability. Et voilà! Bring that to the next tailgate, potluck, middle schooler sleepover and you’ll be a hit.
seven(ish) layer dip
-layer 1: guacamole. If you don’t have a great guac dealer like mine, try this one. A neighbor once suggested adding a white vinegar to enhance the acidity and balance the mild avocado.
-layer 2: black beans
-layer 3: diced tomatoes
-layer 4: diced red onions
-layer 5: chopped jalepeños. After adding this fifth layer, best to squeeze a little lime juice to retain some of the pico flavor.
-layer 6: cilantro leaves.
-layer 7: grated queso fresco, cotija, or another fresh cow’s milk cheese.
Serve with chips or corn tortillas.