When people used to ask my dad what television shows he watched, he'd always reply "just sports and news." I never understood this recurring line as for most of my life, my dad has played the role of my television sherpa if you will. Every year brought with it different shows that despite school, work, and even living in different cities, we managed to follow and enjoy together.
In middle school, we embarked on our exploration of Food Network with old standbys like Good Eats with Alton Brown and Unwrapped with Mark Summers. Fast forward to high school and favorites like The Office, Top Chef, and The Amazing Race came into the fold. I even wore him down enough to watch Friends with me on occasion, which makes him laugh every time, despite whatever he says on the contrary.
Of all the shows my Dad and I have checked off the list through the years, Mad Men may take the cake as my favorite, which, after seven years on TV, will be airing its final seven episodes this Sunday. Looking back, I can't even remember my first viewing, but I do remember being hooked instantly. The show hit so many television criteria for me right off the bat: psychologically fascinating characters, check; stunning set designs/costumes/makeup, check; one of the most attractive casts of all time, check; flawless music selections, check; all set against the backdrop of the 1960's, sold!
The reason Mad Men really stuck out to me as a series didn't have anything to do with the show itself, but the conversations surrounding it. To me, the show always felt like a great American novel, steeped with themes/motifs/symbolism that, more often than not, went right over my head. It was through weekly talks with my dad (and LOTS of episode recaps from Vulture ) that helped me sift through these details and come to appreciate all of the little nuances that I definitely would have missed otherwise.
This dialogue and dad/daughter bonding time is what I'll miss the most when Mad Men ends. But lets not get too down about things, lets just celebrate and eat chips instead!
Not my best non-sequitur, but hear me out.
With so much Mad Men on the brain this week compounded with deciding what recipe to post here, I found my mind wandering back to my favorite product ever brought to the ad execs of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce; the chip n'dip. Originally presented by the hate-to-love Pete Campbell, the chip n' dip is a ceramic tray with a bowl in the middle of it designed for the duel enjoyment of chips and dip. According to Pete "You have your friends over, you put chips on the side, and dip in the middle. Maybe sour cream dip with one of those little brown onions in it." Since I had never attempted caramelized onion dip myself and had developed a recent hankering for large quantities of potato chips, it seemed like a worthy candidate. While I was bummed that I didn't have my own chip n'dip in which to present the final product, the snack as a whole still hit the spot and turned out quite delicious. Plus, I figured some pyrex bowls would be a nice 60's-inspired replacement anyway.
So to all my fellow Mad Men lovers out there, I wish you a happy viewing this Sunday and to everyone else, happy caramelized onion dip eating!
It's really important that the cream cheese in this recipe be softened to room temperature to achieve a silky dip consistency. Despite leaving mine out for close to six hours, my final dip still ended up somewhat lumpy. A quick pressing through a sieve helped a bit, but the texture still wasn't 100% ideal. I recommend keeping it out overnight to avoid the problem all together.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Adapted from Food and Wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/2# cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Potato chips, for serving
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sour cream, parsley, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the chopped caramelized onions and season with salt and pepper. Chill for a few hours in the refrigerator and serve with your favorite potato chips.
*Leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
**If anyone has any theories on how the series will end or wants a place to talk Mad Men//other chips & dip recipes/or life in general, please feel free to use the comments section below for such purposes.