82. Rotel Dip–Just Add Fritos

1 Mar

Seeing as this Dixie delicacy has come up in conversation here in Seattle twice in as many weeks, I reckon I’d better get to writing about it. (And folks think I’m not hip to the zeitgeist.)

The folks who make the dip’s title ingredient (diced tomatoes and green chilies in a can) call it “RO*TEL” but I don’t believe in adding asterisks to names. Also, for most Southerners the “dip” is implied, so I will stick to the vernacular and henceforth refer to the dip of cheesy goodness as simply “Rotel.”

Rotel is about the easiest dip you’ll ever make. Even my six-year-old nephew could do it, if he were allowed to cook with actual heat. For now, he is content with such concoctions as “Chocolate, Cheez-its and Applesauce Delight” or “Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Water Surprise.” What do you dip in Jackson’s dips? He recommends chocolate.

Here’s the recipe for Rotel: Take a brick of Velveeta and add a can of Rotel. Heat and serve. We also like to doctor up the dip with some ground beef or sausage (pre-cooked!!). And it’s best to make Rotel in a Crock-Pot so you can keep it warm. Cold Rotel is frightening, my friends. Just remember to turn the heat from high to low before guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than lifting a lid off the Crock-Pot to discover a crusty, burned cheese-like substance. Well, except being the one who has to clean that mess up.

With the pasta sauce!
Sure, that makes sense.

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I encountered Rotel in which the traditional Velveeta had been replaced by CREAM CHEESE. WHY didn’t I think of that? It would have saved me hours spent on grocery store scavenger hunts trying to determine where they’d stashed the Velveeta. You’d think they’d put it in the dairy case with the rest of the cheese, but I think store keepers have this sadistic need to remind folks that Velveeta is a “cheese product,” not actual cheese and therefore does not require refrigeration. Honestly, if I hadn’t grown up eating Velveeta, I don’t think I’d touch the stuff. And now, thanks to cream cheese, I don’t have to.

Ok, then, moving on to what all may be dipped in Rotel. I, myself, do not stray too far from the classic Fritos (though I prefer the newfangled “Scoops” variety, which greatly improves the dip to chip ratio). Some folks prefer tortilla chips, which are fine (just not as good as Fritos). There might even be some folks tempted to dip crudités in Rotel. But who invited them?

Potato chips and Rotel are an iffy combination. To my mind, most potato chips are too flimsy to stand up to a meaty Rotel, but could probably handle the cheese-only variety.

Whatever you do, don’t serve Rotel with Cheetos or any off-brand cheese puff. This is overkill. Also, Doritos should be avoided, if at all possible. In an emergency, you might could get away with the nacho cheese flavor, but Rotel plus “Cool Ranch” is a recipe for disaster.

Photo Credits: Rotel and Velveeta pic by Adam Kuban, Flickr Creative Commons, Velveeta in pasta aisle pic by Frazgo, Flickr Creative Commons

8 Responses to “82. Rotel Dip–Just Add Fritos”

  1. Karen cronacher March 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Kim, I love that you are posting so often! We New Yorkers don’t eat velveeta, or Rotel. What’s wrong with real cheddar cheese?

  2. girloutofdixie March 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Thanks, Karen! Real cheddar cheese just doesn’t melt right for dips. It tends to separate and get oily.

  3. delightfuleccentric March 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    (a) Yes! Where the hell do they put the damn Velveeta? I swear to you, I go up and down every aisle at least twice, and then have to actually ASK where the stuff is. I have learned one thing: end caps.
    (b) my mama uses the Jimmy Dean SAGE sausage – WONDERFUL. She accidentally used maple one time…ugh.
    (c) I’m a tortilla chip (scoops) girl myself. Never did acquire a taste for fritos (the horror!)
    (d) 3 or 4 years ago my friend and I (both from the ArkLaTex region, now in NC) introduced a native NC girl to rotel. She had never heard of it (the actual rotel in a can) before (???) and thought it (the dip) was the Best Thing Ever.
    (e) Is it wrong that we call it White Trash Dip? 🙂

    • girloutofdixie March 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      (a) I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has to search for Velveeta. I swear they move it around occasionally, just for fun.

      (b) Maple + cheese does not sound very enticing. Although, my mom used to put cheese on waffles and that was good…

      (c) Haven’t had the scoops tortilla chips, but like the idea of them!

      (d) Somebody from NC had never heard of Rotel? Weird. But glad you initiated her.

      (e) Certainly not. In fact, Rotel is just one of the featured items on my list of favorite White Trash Party Foods. Stay tuned for future posts on sausage balls, piggies, and lime sherbet punch.

  4. anon March 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    I love this stuff! I didn’t realize it was a southern thing. My dad made some with deer meat a while back. It wasn’t bad, but I prefer beef.
    I love your blog.

    • girloutofdixie March 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

      I’m so glad you like my blog! I have to say I’d steer clear of deer meat Rotel, seeing as I steer clear of deer meat in general.

  5. geauxgirl March 2, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    +1 from me. I’m the “other” ArkLaTex that Delightful refers to above.

    We just call it “cheese dip” and leave it at that. Although I’ve taken to putting TWO cans of rotel in a batch, one mild, one spicy, as I like to hunt & peck for the tomato bits.

    As for dippers, I grew up with fritos. The skinny ones. The scoops are a giant leap forward, IMHO. Tortilla chips will do in a pinch.

    Cold cheese dip is just fine by me– straight outta the fridge. (minus the weird dehydrated layer thing that’s gotta be peeled off the top first. *shudder*)

    And the hunt for it at the grocery? Yeah. They could at least put it somewhere in the VICINITY of the rest of the dairy world. Then again, hunting it down burns off at least one scoop’s worth I suppose.

    • girloutofdixie March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      Yes, the dehydrated layer on cold Rotel is ICK!

      I like the thought of burning off one scoop’s worth of Rotel. Thanks for pointing out the bright side to the “Where’s Velveeta” situation!!

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