1999 to 2005 was an amazing period of time in my life. I had moved away from home to go off to college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I graduated with degrees in English and in Communication Arts, determined to make it as a screenwriter in the film industry one day. But after spending 2 more years in what will always be THE Dairy State to me, I decided it was time to move back home to New York where so many of my friends and family resided.
But I was a changed man. 6 years in the midwest, Wisconsin specifically, tapped into parts of me I never knew were so intense. I LOVE CHEESE. It is an obsession — something I look for on every menu. And along with my adoration for the real reason cows were put on this Earth, I realized how much I enjoyed a good pub.
Pubs and all of their culinary glory are what I call my “craving bundle.” It has influenced a lot of decisions I’ve made in my kitchen and is the source of inspiration for the recipes I share with you every Friday. Thanks to my craving bundle, this week I share with you an homage to my unadulterated addictions molded by my time in the midwest.
My Chipotle Chicken Spinach & Artichoke Dip takes my growing love of Mexican food and marries it to the not-so-Mexican classic found in some of my favorite pubs. Solid heat runs throughout the dip that is made creamy by the decadent cross-section of cheeses and sour cream infused into the dish. With the addition of the chicken, this dip moves beyond a simple appetizer. It is hearty, spicy, smoky, smooth and addicting.
This Chipotle Chicken Spinach & Artichoke Dip will change the way you look at all spinach and artichoke dips. So check out the recipe and introduce your friends and family to this game-changing pub classic next time you have them over.
Chipotle Chicken Spinach & Artichoke Dip
(recipe serving size – 5 cups)
For preparing the chicken:
10 oz chicken breast (2 pieces)
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
Combine the spices in a small dish. Sprinkle chicken with 1 1/2 tsp of rub and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.
For preparing the spinach:
2 10 oz packs of frozen chopped spinach
Thaw the spinach in a microwave on high heat for 5-10 minutes or in a small pan over medium heat with 1-2 tb of water. Allow the spinach to cool enough for you to handle. Wrap half of the spinach in 2-3 sheets of paper towel and wring out all of the excess liquid. Repeat with the second half of the spinach and set aside.
For preparing the artichokes:
1/2 lb artichoke hearts, chopped (roughly 6-8 artichoke hearts)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 tb parsley, chopped
1 tb butter
1 tb olive oil
Remaining spice rub
Heat a 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet or another kind of oven-safe pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter into the pan, making sure to melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the artichokes, onion, poblano and chipotle pepper in adobo. Sprinkle with the remaining rub and sauté for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the parsley at the very end, stir for a moment and scrape the mixture into a bowl.
For cooking the chicken:
Seasoned chicken breasts
1/2 tb olive oil
Raise the heat under your cast iron skillet to medium-high. Add the oil to the pan and cook the chicken on each side for 2-3 minutes or until done.
Remove the chicken from the pan and remove the pan from the heat. Allow both the chicken and the pan to cool. Chop the pieces of chicken into small cubes and set aside.
Bringing it all together:
Seasoned chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
Chopped spinach, thawed
Artichoke heart mixture, cooked
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb manchego cheese, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
1/4 lb parmesan cheese, shredded (roughly 1 cup) plus 2 oz for top
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp smoked paprika sprinkled on top
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all of the ingredients except for the smoked paprika and 2 oz of shredded parmesan cheese into the cast iron skillet. Stir with a fork to break up the spinach and to fully incorporate all of the components. Sprinkle the paprika along the top. Follow with the 2 oz of shredded parmesan cheese. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 30-45 minutes or until the dip is hot and has begun to gently bubble.
Turn the oven to broil. Remove the foil from the skillet and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the cheese has slightly browned.
Let stand for 3-5 minutes. Serve while warm with tortilla chips and enjoy!
Creative liberties: The Low Heat and Vegetarian Remixes
While this dish contains quite a bit of heat and some chicken, there are simple ways this dip can cater to those with more sensitive palettes and those who might not eat meat of any kind.
- Substitute the chipotle chili powder with cracked black pepper. While you will still be using pepper, cracked black pepper is way more mild than the finely ground chipotle chili powder in the recipe. Feel free to omit the chipotle chili in adobo addition as well to ensure the dip is lower in heat.
- Omit the chicken and still enjoy the bold flavor of the dip. Chicken is a great addition to this classic dip, but if those that will be eating the dip are vegetarian, simply skip the poultry. The dip will still be exceptional without it.
- Replace the chicken with mushrooms for a heartier meatless dip. White mushrooms work great in this dish. Take 1 lb of white mushrooms, brush off any dirt with a damp cloth and then quarter them. Coat them in olive oil and at least 2 tsp of the same rub used on the chicken. Sauté the mushrooms in batches in the same cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high until browned, roughly 5-10 minutes depending on how many mushrooms are in the pan.