There’s no point in me saying it, because we already know, but the best part of any “game day” or watching of a sport just so happens to be the food. I’m trying to convince my husband to join a local softball league just so that I can go watch his games and bring the team snacks, and you’d better believe that they would be some great snacks at the games. If you’re gearing up to watch the upcoming super bowl, or just pretending to watch it so that you can enjoy the appetizers, perhaps you’d like to include this very Cheesy Broccoli Cheddar Dip? Did I mention bacon is involved? It would be the best centerpiece to any tailgate, game day party, or family get together. Potlucks? They don’t even stand a chance. You’d knock out the competition. Your potlucks are competitive like mine are, right? Well, if they are, you’d win with this dish. Hands down.
Start by cooking the bacon until crispy, and then transferring to a plate, lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease and then add in the onion, garlic and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the butter and cook until melted. Then sprinkle in the flour, cooking for about 30 seconds—this helps remove that raw flour taste and helps develop the roux with the butter.
**Tip: A roux is a combination of fat (most often butter) with flour and is used as a thickening agent for sauces and/or soups and stews.**
Stir in the milk and cook over low heat, stirring often, until thickened. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Once thickened, season with salt, pepper, chili powder, mustard powder, chili flakes and hot sauce, if using.
**Note: I like adding the chili powder and pepper flakes and jalapeño and hot sauce…because they all come together to create a flavorful—yet slightly spicy—cheese sauce, but if you’re not a big fan of heat, you can omit the jalapeño and chili flakes! But still add the chili powder because it won’t make it spicy!**
Remove the pot from the heat and then add in the shredded Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses and parmesan. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted through and the sauce is smooth.
**Note: I like adding gruyere because it melts nicely and adds a great flavor. If you can’t find it or don’t have any on hand, fontina, monterey jack or pepper jack would be great as well!**
Return the cheese sauce to the stove and set over very low heat. Then add in the chopped broccoli and crispy bacon from earlier. Stir until well combined. You want to cook over low heat, stirring often, just until the broccoli has softened and turned bright green.
**Note: We add the broccoli at the end so as to not over-cook it! Nothing is worse than an over-cooked green vegetable that has gone from bright green to a very dull and pale green/yellow/brown vegetable! The heat from the cheese sauce will soften the bits of broccoli just enough!**
At this point you can give the dip a try and adjust seasoning, if needed. Adding more salt or pepper as you’d like.
Serve the dip warm (I like to keep it in the pot so that I can easily rewarm it over low heat as needed) along with some crackers, sliced bread, chips, sweet baby peppers or any other vegetable!
You can think of this as a very hearty, very chunky, very grown up version of a classic fondue. If you have a fondue pot lying around, well just dust it off and allow it to make an appearance. You’ll be the coolest cat on the block.
Because of the amount of cheese in this dip, I wouldn’t really recommend making it ahead of time because it will firm up in the fridge and won’t be as silky smooth if you go to reheat it. That’s the bad news, the good news however, is that it doesn’t take that much time to whip up, so you can make it right before your guests show up and just keep it warm on the stove over very low heat.
If you’d like to bake it in the oven, just pour the dip into a small casserole dish. Top with more shredded cheese or panko bread crumbs and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Then just serve as directed!
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- couple dashes hot sauce (optional)
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 1 pound broccoli crowns, trimmed and roughly chopped
- crackers, for serving
- mini peppers, for serving
- Place a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
- Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease and add in the onion, garlic and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the butter and cook, until melted through. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the milk and cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, pepper flakes, mustard powder and chili powder (and hot sauce if using).
- Remove the sauce from the heat and add in the cheeses, stirring until completely melted through. Return to low heat and stir in the broccoli and cooked bacon. Cook for about 5 minutes to warm through and slightly soften the broccoli.
- Serve warm with crackers, chips or vegetables. Enjoy!