Ranch Dressing


Match Made in Heaven

While I was in the US, I rediscovered Ranch dressing. Or should I said, discovered Ranch dressing, because I was never really a big fan of the stuff even when I lived in America.

Ranch dressing has a bad reputation.

First, Ranch is generally regarded as being terrible for you. Not only is it full of high fat mayonnaise and sour cream, but it’s often served with other fatty (but delicious!) foods like breaded fried zucchini and french fries. Ranch is a staple of the salad bar, usually with its friend “low fat Ranch”, America’s attempt to satisfy the nation’s craving with a less sinful but entirely substandard imitation.

Second, Ranch dressing is almost always of the bottled “Hidden Valley Ranch” variety. Highly processed, and just sort of generic-tasting, this type of Ranch doesn’t taste horrible, but it doesn’t taste remarkable either.

And yet, the concept of Ranch is entirely promising. Made with mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, garlic, onion and herbs, it sounds like it could be good. After all, creamy dressings, for salad or for dipping, have their place in society. And while I’m saving Ranch, I’d like to also put in a few goods for mayonnaise which also gets a bad wrap. What is mayonnaise but a lot of oil and a little bit of egg? We put oil on our salads every day! How is mayonnaise so different?

But back to Ranch. Seeing its promise, my sister Stephanie set out in January 2010 to create a Ranch dressing that is truly remarkable. She succeeded in spades, discovering that pickle juice is the magic ingredient that gives Ranch a fresh lift. The rest comes down to herbs and spices, of which parsley, chives, onion and garlic are key. The result is pungent, dynamic, creamy and, as I discovered on this last trip, good with almost anything you throw at it.

Breaded Green Beans and Homemade Ranch

The Great Ranch Fest of 2011/2012 began at my friend Abby’s and Matt’s on New Year’s Eve. We were mulling over recipes and salads and I mentioned the Ranch dressing. Abby suggested we make it to serve with her breaded green beans. The first bite blew our minds. The Ranch was PERFECT with the breaded green beans. Then, we tried some Ranch on our pizza. Again, ka-pow.

We finished the whole batch of Ranch that night, and the next day, made another batch to go with fish tacos. Again, the Ranch was gone by the end of the meal. (This probably goes a fair way to explaining why my clothes don’t fit quite like they did before the trip!)

I made Ranch again later on my trip with Stephanie, where we staged a repeat of Abby’s breaded green beans (they are about as awesome as the Ranch itself). It was here Stephanie taught me a thing or two about why her recipe works.

The secret(s) to good Ranch

First, there’s the pickle juice, which should be from dill pickles – Claussen Kosher Dills are best (I just discovered to my delight that Claussen owns pickles.com, and to my disappointment, Kraft owns Claussen – alas). It’s important that the pickle juice be not very sweet (I’m pretty sure Claussen’s has no sugar in its pickling juice). As I discovered at Abby’s, for lack of dill pickle juice you can use normal pickle juice with a good pinch of dried dill.

Then there’s the mayonnoaise. I made my first batch at Abby’s with Hellman’s, and the second batch with some hippy organic mayonnaise. Guess what: the Hellman’s won. Annoying, but true. I would like to try making Ranch with homemade mayonnaise, or the stuff that Riverford sells which is truly awesome. Verdict TBD (please let my mayo win!).

Ranch Dressing

This recipe was created by my sister Stephanie and appears in the family cookbook, “Seasoned with Love” (Mom’s title). If you can’t get dill pickles, use any kind of non-sweetened pickle juice, plus a pinch of dried dill. And for UK folk, “sour cream” in the States is a bit different from the “soured cream” you get in the UK – it’s thicker, and possibly more sour. I’ve never tried “soured cream” but suspect it would be OK, just a little runnier – if anyone tries this let me know!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp dill pickle juice (Claussens is best!)
  • 1 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried chopped chives
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper

Method

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, pickle juice, and buttermilk and mix with a fork until smooth. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and stir until mixed. Chill at least 2 hours before serving (well, you don’t have to do this if you just can’t wait, but it does help the flavours blend).

Prep Time: 0 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Yield: 5 servings (approx. 2 Tbsp per serving)

Per 2 Tbsp: 73 Calories | 6.4 grams Fat | 3.6 grams Carbohydrates | 0.6 grams Protein | 0 grams Fiber

11 thoughts on “Ranch Dressing

  1. Mom

    Hidden Valley created the Ranch Dressing phenomenon, but back in the day the seasonings were in a little pouch and all you added was fresh buttermilk and mayo. Over the years they got away from the fresh ingredients…. buttermilk is key, but most people don’t keep it on hand.

    I agree, Stephanie’s recipe is by far the BEST around. Have never met a person who did not love it. It is legendary now…. rightly so.

    Reply
  2. Misk Cooks

    Hi Monica. Thanks for this. I’m trying this with my own homemade mayo. The buttermilk in the UK is thicker than the US version, too. BTW, you can buy the bottled Hidden Valley stuff at Costco if you have one near you. I don’t buy it but there are certainly a lot of people there who do. Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Monica Post author

      Maybe the UK’s thicker buttermilk will compensate for its thinner sour cream. :) I am looking forward to hearing how it goes with your homemade mayo and fresh herbs. I don’t think I can ever buy bottled Ranch again after discovering this recipe, but thanks for the Costco tip (I didn’t actually know Costco existed in the UK!).

      Reply
        1. Monica Post author

          I’m so relieved that you liked the Ranch! And glad it worked with the fresh herbs. Really curious about the tweak though. Deliver the dish! ;)

          Reply
  3. Chris

    Hi Monica,
    Ranch dressing recipe looks so yummy–thanks!
    I’ve just discovered your blog via Twitter and went bookmarking crazy. I love the photographs that make even the scrapes on wooden cutting boards look like a rock star/design element.
    Question: was Panko crumbs used in green bean fry? I love how they are crispy and evenly coated. I’ve looked around other places, but the look of that is best to me.

    Reply
    1. Monica Post author

      Chris, your comments have truly made my night – thanks so much for the compliments. As to your question – YES, we used Panko bread crumbs! They were definitely the right breadcrumb for the job. These beans are soooo amazing. If you have any other questions about it just ask. I want to spread the love of those green beans all over the world. (And p.s. the coating is also good on other veggies like eggplant!)

      Reply
  4. Chris

    Yay, thanks for the reply. I was wondering…

    A. What batter did you use as a “glue” to have those Panko to stick?
    B. Did you bake or fry?

    LOL, Maybe I’m asking too many questions. I don’t want to have you reveal all the details. You might even write a cookbook one day with it.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Monica Post author

      Ask away, Chris. :) Ok, here’s how you do the green beans:

      1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C
      2. Boil the green beans for a few minutes so that they’re cooked but still crispy. Drain and rinse in cold water.
      3. Lightly grease a baking pan
      4. Create an assembly-line of three bowls / plates each containing the following: (1) a mix of flour, salt and pepper, (2) whisked egg, (3) panko bread crumbs
      5. Working in batches along the assembly line, coat the green beans first in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs
      6. Lay the green beans in a single layer on the baking sheet
      7. Bake until golden, flipping them once or twice during baking.

      Make sense? Let me know how it goes. :)

      Reply

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