Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hidden Valley Horrible

When it comes to taste and texture, nothing irritates me more than rancid, oops I meant… ranch dressing. Some numbnuts accidentally spilled some into the cream cheese cannister here at work and my bagel ended up tasting of the nastiness. When I order buffalo wings the stuff usually is the first to get tossed in the trash (no one else I know likes it either). Why is it that everyone has to cover, no smother their food with this white sludge? I see people pouring it over their slices of pizza with rapture. I’ve seen them dousing a piece of baked chicken or drowning healthy vegetables with the stuff. To me, the traditional ranch dressing always seems to taste like Elmers glue with chopped dill mixed into it.

I was curious as to the origin of the dressing, and found that it was invented, of course, by the man who started the Hidden Valley ® Ranch in the 1950’s, Steve Henson – no relation to the Muppet master, Jim. The signature flavors of the dressing include dill, onion and garlic powder and buttermilk. But the real secret to Ranch and possibly the reason why it’s so beloved is the copious amounts of mayonaise that must be added to give it that sloppy texture. I did find a dry recipe (for Ranch Dressing mix) online:
http://www.netcooks.com/recipes/Salads/Homemade.Ranch.Dressing.Mix.html
They didn’t mention that you should grind up the crackers before mixing them with the other dry ingredients.

For those of you who don’t care for Ranch here’s another option:

Imogene’s all purpose salad dressing (serves 2)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, chopped fine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (1 tsp dried) -optional if you don't like tarragon
1 tbsp basalmic vinegar
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Generous pinch of sea salt.

Beat all the ingredients together in a ramekin or other small dish. Toss into your salad or serve with fresh Tuscan bread.

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