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This spicy skillet dip is easy to prepare

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Bacon and cheddar, that time-honored pairing, meet up once more in this easy, spicy skillet dip. Grated cheddar, the sharper the better, and crisp bacon slivers are folded into a mix of cream cheese and sour cream that’s been zipped up with hot sauce. You can prepare the dip a few hours in advance, then broil it just before serving so that the cheddar emerges melted, singed and bubbly on top. Marinated cherry tomatoes (or you can substitute prepared salsa), scallions and more bacon make for a colorful, juicy garnish. Serve it with anything you love to dip: Chips, veggies or crackers are all welcome.

Bacon-Cheddar Dip
• 1 cup diced cherry tomatoes (or use 1 cup prepared salsa)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce, plus a dash
• Pinch of salt
• 8 ounces bacon, diced
• 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced and separated into green and white pieces
• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 2-inch pieces
• 1 3/4 cups sour cream
• 2 1/2 cups extra-sharp cheddar, grated
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Celery sticks or other veggies, tortilla chips, potato chips or crackers, for serving

Set an oven rack 4 inches away from the broiler and turn the broiler to high.

In a small bowl, combine tomatoes with a dash (or two) of hot sauce and a pinch of salt (or skip this step if using salsa). Set aside to marinate.

Heat an 8- or 9-inch cast-iron or broiler-safe skillet over medium-high. Add diced bacon and stir occasionally until crisp and browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Drain off most of the excess grease from the skillet, leaving 1 tablespoon bacon fat.

Add scallion whites and a pinch of salt to the bacon fat and saute until tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese and keep stirring until it melts, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and stir in the sour cream, 2 cups grated cheddar, black pepper, hot sauce and all but 1 tablespoon of the cooked bacon (save remaining tablespoon for garnish). Taste and add more salt and hot sauce if needed. Stir until the mixture is warm but not hot, 2 to 4 minutes.

Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup cheddar. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is beginning to brown and bubble.

Remove from heat and top with scallion greens, reserved bacon and marinated cherry tomatoes. Serve with celery sticks, veggies, tortilla chips, potato chips or crackers.
Total time: 20 minutes, serves 6-8.

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