I recently had a few people over, and wanted to break out the crockpot and use it to make a healthy, hot dip. I looked around online for a little while, but when you google ‘crockpot’, ‘dip’, and ‘healthy’, you don’t get too many results. Crockpot dips tend to start with 2 packages cream cheese, or 1 container mayo or sour cream, or three different types of shredded cheeses, or all of the above.
So I decided I would invent my own healthy dip, and see what comes of it. I didn’t want anything in the Tex-Mex/chili family (a very popular crockpot sub-genre), because those go best with tortilla or corn chips, and I didn’t want to have fried chips of any kind in my house. Nor did I want to go the spinach/artichoke dip route, because, while tasty, I’ve done it before, and find it kinda boring. I wanted to try something new.
I settled on a chicken cordon bleu flavor profile, and made a special trip to the store to gather healthier ingredients to put it all together. Here’s eveything I needed:
I started with 2 pounds of ground chicken breast. I contemplated browning the chicken in a skillet first, but ultimately decided against it. It would cook in my slow-cooker. That’s why it’s called a slow-cooker! To the chicken I added about half a dozen cloves of garlic, which I minced with my garlic press, and a few teaspoons of fresh rosemary and sage:
The second main ingredient in chicken cordon bleu is ham, and for this healthy recipe, I opted to replace the ham with Canadian bacon. Canadian bacon is surprisingly low in calories and fat (especially for a product with ‘bacon’ in the name), with 1 slice often having around 50 calories and about 2 grams of fat. I picked up some Canadian bacon at the deli counter, and trimmed it up:
Then I diced it and added it to the crock.
The cheese in chicken cordon bleu is traditionally Swiss cheese, but I wanted to use one of the fat-free, vegan cheeses I’d seen at Whole Foods. I was bummed they didn’t make a version of it in Swiss, so I picked up a block of Mozzarella instead:
One ounce of this stuff has 36 calories and is fat-free. I also picked up a block of mild cheddar, which you can see in the first pic in this post, but I didn’t end up using any of it. I grated the entire block of Mozzarella, and sampled it too. It tasted like Mozzarella, although the texture was different – not as smooth or creamy. I don’t know if I’d like this stuff just on a sandwich or something, but melted in a pot with a bunch of other ingredients? I bet I’d be fooled.
I added the cheese to the crock:
Now to add stuff that would add creaminess and make it thinner, as a good dip should be. I started with about 1/4 cup dijon mustard, then added 1/4 cup lite Miracle Whip (the entire 1/4 cup is 80 calories and 6 grams of fat), and then added about 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt. I topped it all off with a little black pepper:
Voila! A loaded crockpot!
My idea is that is would cook for 6 hours on Low, and then it’d be ready for when my friends came over, and I’d serve it with pita bread triangles and whole wheat crackers, and we’d all love it. But things started to unravel, in two ways: my mistakes became evident, and call me a bad blogger, but I forgot to photograph things from this step forward.
I first checked on the dip about 3 hours into the cooking process. I once read that every time you open the lid to your crockpot, you have to add 20 minutes to your cooking time, and ever since I’ve been careful to not check things very often. Maybe I should have checked this dip a little earlier, though, because when I went to stir the dip 3 hours in, I found that the chicken had formed a 2-pound mass on the bottom of the crockpot. Great. This is why I probably should have browned it first in a skillet, so I could break it up in the process.
I hacked away at the chicken mass with a big spoon and broke it up to small pieces (a potato masher would have been handy, but I don’t have one, and seeing as how this is the very first time I’ve ever needed one, I don’t want one, either). The lid went back on, and it crocked away.
My friends started showing up about 5 hours into the cooking process, and thanks to all the yogurt, the dip was pretty thin – more soup-like than dip-like. So I decided to remove the lid, and keep the crock on, and let some moisture evaporate, which would thicken the dip. I’ve done that before, with success, and thought without a doubt that I’d be able to do it again.
My friends and I chatted away, and had a lovely time, and people seemed to be enjoying the chicken cordon bleu dip. I didn’t actually try it myself until a few hours into the evening, when it was no longer dip-like at all, but, instead, almost rock-hard. My crockpot has a ‘Warm’ setting, for use when you want to just keep the contents warm, without cooking them anymore, and when I took the lid off to let the evaporation happen, I meant to switch the crockpot to Warm. But I forgot to do it, which meant that the dip had now been cooking for over 8 hours. Yikes. I’m glad I didn’t take photos of this hot mess.
For the record, it didn’t taste half-bad. The flavors were nice, even if, in every other regard, it was by no means a dip.
So, dear readers, if any of you attempt to make my chicken cordon bleu dip recipe, learn from my mistakes:
- Brown the chicken first.
- Don’t forget to switch the crock to ‘Warm’ when your guests arrive.
- Take photos of the finished product (in all its various states).
When it comes down to it, a not-super-successful crockpot dip isn’t the end of the world, and I can’t expect every recipe to come out perfectly, especially when I’m making them up. Will this stop me from trying new things again? Nope. And for that, I say…
Keep it up, David!