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A&E >  Food

Hot Cougar Gold dip a cheesy crowd-pleaser

Carolyn Lamberson

Reader Marie Holst wrote a few weeks back requesting a recipe for the Hot Cougar Gold Cheese Dip served at the Peacock Lounge of the Davenport Hotel.

Executive Chef Bryan Franz was happy to oblige. And I was quite happy to test it – until I read the recipe.

It calls for six pounds of cheese. That’s a lot of cheese dip.

Even when I halved the recipe, I had plenty of dip – more than 2  1/2 quarts. Fortunately, I had two different social functions to attend on a recent weekend; my friends and colleagues eagerly scooped it up to rave reviews.

For home purposes, it’s printed here at a quarter of the original recipe, which should make roughly 1  1/2 quarts of dip – plenty for a big gathering.

I baked mine in a 1  3/4–quart casserole dish, but Franz also suggests portioning it out into individual ramekins. At a quarter of the original recipe, the dip would fill 12 four-ounce ramekins, give or take a few.

So what’s the secret of Cougar Gold Cheese Dip? Of the three cheeses it contains, Cougar Gold represents the smallest amount. Go figure.

Still, it’s mighty tasty served along with a nice baguette. We also enjoyed it as a dip for carrot sticks and apple wedges. What was left over I reheated the next day with no discernible decrease in quality.

Best of all, it can be made in advance. Simply combine all the ingredients in an oven-safe dish and refrigerate overnight. Let it sit out at room temperature for a bit before baking, or else plan on keeping it in the oven for a longer period of time.

The Davenport’s Hot Cougar Gold Cheese Dip

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 large shallot, chopped fine

Handful of flat-leaf parsley, washed, dried and chopped

12 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes

1/4 pound Cougar Gold cheese, coarsely grated

1/2 pound gruyere cheese, coarsely grated

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, just enough for them to sweat and open up the flavors. Set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add in shallot and garlic mixture, season with pinch of cayenne and salt. and combine.

Place in individual ovenproof ramekins or a large ovenproof dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or longer if baking in a larger dish, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Finish under the broiler for a few seconds until the top is caramelized.

Yield: 12 servings.

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