A Dip To Celebrate The Holidays
Baked Fennel, Pancetta and Blue Cheese Dip
Here is a recipe from Better Home & Gardens that I have been making since 2004. I recall tearing this from one of those holiday appetizers issues that I am unable to avoid purchasing in the check-out line. This warm, creamy appetizer bursts with the sweetness of fennel, tangy blue cheese and the savory yumminess of pancetta. If your guests don’t polish this off, I’m sure you will!
Try not to use the pre-crumbled blue cheese as I think it loses something (flavor) in the pre-crumbling. I used a wedge of my new favorite, Litehouse blue cheese, for this recipe, as I could not locate my old favorite, Maytag blue cheese, in the store.
This can be made ahead, cover and refrigerate; just bring to room temperature before re-heating briefly. Serve warm with your dipper of choice. I used a crusty baguette of French bread but it pairs equally well with crostini, crackers or vegetables. Try endive leaves for a more elegant presentation.
Be the hostess with the mostest with this dip!
5 oz. diced pancetta (or 4 slices thick cut bacon)
3 medium fennel bulbs, tops and cores removed, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces good mayonnaise (that would be Best Foods on the West Coast)
8 ounces sour cream (not light)
6-ounce wedge of good blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fine dry Italian bread crumbs (try Progresso in the blue can)
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta or bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel (if using bacon, crumble it). Reserve the drippings.
Add the thinly sliced fennel and garlic to the pan drippings and sauté over medium heat until just tender and beginning to brown (10 to 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine the cooled fennel with the pancetta, mayonnaise, sour cream and blue cheese. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Add to a large oven-safe casserole dish or two 16-ounce oven-safe dishes. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet).
Top with the cheese/bread crumb mixture.
Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes until heated through and the top is golden brown. Do not overbake.
Serve warm with your dipping tool of choice (crusty baguette French bread, sturdy crackers, endive leaves, veggies).
Recipe very slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Baked Fennel-Blue Cheese Dip.