Friday, May 22, 2009

Before it's too late

It’s salad season and lettuce is snuckered into nearly every meal, at least at our house, so I want to get this recipe for Ranch dressing out to you quick, before it’s too late.

My family loves Ranch dressing. They tolerate my homemade dressings, but they adore Ranch. Seeing as they are thrilled when we have chef salads (and Ranch dressing) for dinner (you ought to see Sweetsie shovel the greens down her gullet—she could win competitions), I don’t make an issue of buying the plastic bottles of premade stuff. I would’ve preferred to make my own but figured that Ranch was like Oreos: unduplicable (made-up-word alert).

All that changed the other week when I was talking on the phone with my friend Amber and she nonchalantly said that she started making her own Ranch dressing when she came across a recipe for it over at Pioneer Woman’s blog. Amber had never really like salads (gasp) and she didn’t even like bought Ranch dressing all that much (double gasp), but she took a shine to this homemade Ranch dressing. I promptly looked the recipe up and made it. Everyone loved it, and I beamed with pleasure as they pitch-forked the mounds of greens into their mouths and Miss Becca Boo declared, “I love when you make chef salads, Mama.” Sweet words, no?


The next time I made it, just a couple days ago, I made a double batch. I had even saved an old Ranch bottle so I could fill it with the homemade dressing.

Which proved to be a lot more difficult than it sounds. I was talking on the phone to my mom while I attempted to fill the bottle and the poor woman endured an exhaustively detailed description of what I was doing. I was already grumpy, and the dressing-into-bottle dilemma only served to amp up the Grump Factor. My funnels were either too big, or too small, and pouring it in directly was disastrous, so I was reduced to sloppily teaspooning it into the bottle. Very grumpily. And then I wondered (out loud, of course, to Mom) if I could make a paper funnel, and then it hit me—my cake decorator bag! I fitted the bag (minus any attachments) into the neck of the bottle and poured. It was so painless that it almost made me happy.


Now that the mess is cleaned up and I have a large bottle of homemade Ranch dressing in my refrigerator, along with a little bottle of the extra, I am very happy indeed. I am not grumpy any more. (That probably has more to do with the fact that my kids are quietly playing and I’m getting some precious writing time, but we’ll ignore that for the sake of this post topic and say it is the bottle of Ranch dressing that has lifted my spirits, okay?)

Ranch Dressing
Adapted from Ree’s blog, Pioneer Woman.

Amber said that she subbed yogurt for the sour cream and it turned out delicious.

Ree calls for fresh herbs, of which I only had parsley. I’ve written the recipe down as I made it, with the fresh herb options in parenthesis.

Some other optional ingredients (according to Ree—I didn’t try them) include white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, fresh oregano, and Tabasco sauce. Another recipe I looked at called for fresh basil and red pepper flakes. There’s plenty of room for creativity.

I’m giving you the doubled recipe; halve it if you doubt me.

2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 smallish cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons chives, dried (1/4 cup fresh, minced)
1 teaspoon dill weed, dried (2-4 teaspoons fresh, minced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
a couple grinds of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

8 comments:

  1. Can this be made with homemade buttermilk? Bought is so much thicker and I'd think it'd make for a nicer dressing but I hate buying things like that, 'specially when there are two large milk tanks just up the road with as much fresh milk as any dairy farmers' wife could want. Also, any idea how long this stuff keeps? I'm pretty sure we wouldn't go through it as fast as you guys do. Maybe I should make a quarter of a batch :)

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  2. I'll give it a go..... my husband loves ranch....but RESTAURANT ranch. We've never been able to duplicate it or find it in stores...

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  3. I'm off to make it- thanks! I love Yo-yo boy's fly comment- please tell him:-).

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  4. Zoe, Yes, you can use homemade buttermilk. I don't use my buttermilk because I culture it and it tastes too strong. If you use your own, just add half of the called-for amount, adding more as needed. Or maybe you could skip the buttermilk all together and add yogurt, or maybe some white wine vinegar to give it a tang. (It's nice to have you back after your long hiatus!)

    Amy, What is RESTAURANT Ranch?

    ThyHand, I told him and he laughed.

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  5. Restaurant Ranch is the kind of Ranch you always get in restaurants. I know they get it shipped to them in huge vats, but I have never been able to find out the brands. It just tastes different than the average bottled stuff.... (I know....picky, picky, right? I've made about 4 or 5 recipes off the internet and so far the hub has vetoed them all....)

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  6. I made this dressing like I said I would and we LOVE it. And, I'm not even a real ranch-dressing kind of gal! Thanks!!

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  7. ThyHand, I'm glad it works for you!

    Amy, Surely you know some people who work in restaurants, no? Get them to filch some of the dressing and then treat your husband to a blind taste test. That way you might be able to determine the secret ingredient...or maybe you'll learn there isn't one and you just need to purchase some special little plastic boxes to serve your hubby's homemade dressing in!

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  8. I don't know anyone that works in food service, but if I know my husband, he would tell me 'this one isn't right....' or some such nonsense. LOL got to have something to fuss about, you know....

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