When I was 10, I “wrote” a parody version of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One,” switching out the sapphic longing for pickle cravings. Unfortunately, the only lyrics I can remember are, “But I’m the only one who’ll walk across the fire for pickles/ and I’m the only one who’ll drown in my desire for pickles.” My family didn’t particularly enjoy my song, but that did not keep me from singing it.
Based on that anecdote, you might think I am thrilled to be living in our current golden age of pickled products—and I am, to a certain extent (Trader Joe is truly pickling everything, but his offerings are hit and miss). Beyond mere pickle chips, pickle dips have become proliferate, so of course I had to make my own. There are many pickle dip recipes on the world wide web, some of which contain caramelized onions, but no one—to my knowledge—has been brave enough to caramelize the pickles themselves. Except for me.
It’s easy to be brave when you’re armed with knowledge and experience. Based on previous experiments, I know that exposing pickles to heat creates all sorts of new and interesting flavors:
The sugars in the brining liquid caramelize and char, and the results taste pretty fantastic. The tartness of the pickle is slightly tamed, while the savoriness is heightened. It is a pleasing pickle.
It follows, then, that pleasingly caramelized pickles can be turned into a pleasing dip. And boy, was I pleased with myself when I took my first bite.
The finished dish is tart and salty in the way of sour pickles, but all the other flavors in the mix make the preparation truly special. Cooking the pickles in a pan intensifies their tartness and saltiness while creating new flavors by way of browning. The sugars in the brine caramelize while the edges of the pickle pieces go golden and chewy. The bits are also savory, with an almost meaty quality.
I cooked the pickles, then pulsed them in a food processor before folding them into sour cream along with a spoonful of mayo and little bit of sugar. The resulting dip is creamy, salty, tangy, a touch sweet…and nearly impossible to stop eating. I made a fairly small batch (my fridge is 20% dip right now), but I recommend doubling the recipe to serve it to a crowd of more than one.
Caramelized Pickle Dip
Table of Contents
- 8 ounces pickles, preferably something like Clausen’s or Grillo’s
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces full-fat sour cream
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
- 1/2 teaspoon table sugar
If using whole pickles, slice them into quarters and then into 1/8th-inch thick pieces; if using pickle chips, cut each chip into 4 pieces. Add the oil to a sauté pan and warm over medium-low heat. Add the pickle pieces, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and chewy on the edges (about 45 minutes). Scrape the pickles, along with any remaining oil, into a food processor and pulse until it looks like relish. (You could use it as a relish, actually; that would be quite good.)
Let the pickles cool to room temperature, then fold them into the sour cream, along with the mayo and sugar. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge until you’re ready to devour it.