By Jake Bear
There are many opportunities for enjoying delectable game day delicacies, but no area proves more bountiful than tailgates. They can range from the typical burgers and dogs, to the more sophisticated rarities like steak and bacon-wrapped scallops. Tailgates are popular for a multitude of reasons, but one of the main attractions for students is that they are for the most part very cheap. Each person attending the tailgate usually brings only one dish and spends very little money for preparation, yet no one leaves for the game hungry; whether they just bring a small homemade dish, or pick up a 2-liter on the way, everyone leaves satisfied in the end. However, while the tailgates are typically rather light on the wallet, they can be pretty heavy on the waistline. Most dishes consist of mainly cheese and meat, which are most certainly delicious, but those searching for healthier options may find minimal-calorie foods difficult to procure.
While I do my best during the week to find healthful options in the face of limited dining hall menus, I easily succumb to indulgence come Saturday. Greasy burgers, bags of chips accompanying salsa, and pretty much anything with cheese on it, it’s a safe bet I’m sampling it all. Yet I do realize that some are not as careless as I when it comes to weekend dining, so I too see the need for healthier options at the majority of tailgates. This being said I am usually the guy to cop out and just bring a bag of chips to the party—because no one else could have possibly thought of that right? However, during this past break as my girlfriend and I prepared to attend a party we decided that instead of bringing what would likely be the fifth bag of Doritos, we would mix things up a little bit. Recalling my previous tailgating experiences I remembered a dish that had stuck in my mind as one of my all-time favorites: Buffalo Chicken Dip. Fortunately, the recipe is all but fail-proof, and with some minor tweaking can be made with health conscious attendees in mind.
Probably the best part about this recipe is that it only takes about an hour from start to finish and can even be used by those who prefer delaying preparation till last minute. Also, for those out there lacking cooking experience do not fret because I dare not attempt anything past the highly technical grilled cheese on most occasions and was capable of cooking this without issue. We chose to prepare a batch and a half of the original recipe because it was expected that about 15 people would be at the party, and it was good that we did because even with only 8 people showing up there was barely enough for everyone to get their fill. If you’re looking for a recipe to satisfy everyone at the party, as well as make an earnest attempt at considering your calorie-cutting counterparts, look no further; just don’t forget to set aside a bowl when you’re done or you may find yourself out of luck after everyone else has gotten their share.
The recipe is adapted from Mike Fullers “The Best Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe”
The recipe takes about an hour total time to prepare after pre-heating the oven to 350°
– 1 to ½ lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken breast (about two large chicken breasts)
– 1 ½ cups of light or fat-free ranch dressing
– 1 ½ cups of Frank’s Original Red Hot sauce (substitution is not recommended)
– 12 oz of light cream cheese
– 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
– Green onions or other garnish (optional)
– A couple bags of tortilla chips to go along
- Place the chicken breasts whole into an appropriately sized pot of boiling water and cook for about 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked entirely
- While the chicken is boiling begin preparing the rest of the dish by first cutting the cream cheese into approximately 2’’ cubes and place equally into a 11.5’’ x 8’’ x 2’’ (or something of similar size) Pyrex style backing dish coated with butter spray
- Then cover the entire area of the dish with the shredded cheddar, ranch, hot sauce, mix slightly, and place in the oven for 10 minutes uncovered
- Remove the dish after 10 minutes, stir the dip to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and place back in the oven uncovered for another 10 minutes
- While the dish is cooking the chicken should be done cooking and allowed to cool slightly, place the chicken breast on a cutting board and use a couple forks to pull the chicken to form thin shredded pieces exactly as you would in the process of making pulled pork
- After 10 minutes has passed remove the dish from the oven and mix in the chicken thoroughly making sure no “pockets” of hot sauce remain in the dish as they will likely form
- Following mixing cover the dish with aluminum foil or its respective lid and place back in the oven for about another 25 minutes
- After the 25 minutes pass remove the dish mixing one last time and if you desire transfer the dip to a more attractive bowl and garnish before serving with chips