If I had to name the single greatest culinary invention of the 20th century, it would have to be ranch dressing. If I were able to name two, it would be ranch dressing and Chicken McNuggets. If you need proof of their gastronomic superiority, think of what happens when you put the two of them together. Culinary supernova. It’s Magic Johnson and Larry Bird doing trick shots while simultaneously duetting on “Islands in the Stream.” They’re also wearing hot pink-sequined tuxedos, because this is my analogy, and I think they’d look awesome in that.
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Ranch dressing does not have the exquisite pedigree of a piquant béarnaise sauce or an indulgent crème anglaise. It was invented in the early 1950s by a plumber who was working in the Alaskan bush, which is quite literally the polar opposite of pedigree. Classic French herb vinaigrettes are Rudolph Valentino. Ranch dressing is Scott Baio in a hot pink-sequined tuxedo.
Alaska plumber eventually made his way to warmer climates and opened a dude ranch — one of those schlocky tourist traps where people would play cowboy — and named it Hidden Valley Ranch. The dressing became so popular with guests that they began to bottle it for them to take home, then began selling it at stores, growing bigger and bigger until 1972, when they were purchased by… Clorox. Clorox still owns it too! I checked out the company’s brand portfolio, and it consists of tons of bleach, various cat litters, the greatest salad dressing of all time and Liquid-Plumr. So this story came full circle in a way. God bless our plumbers for keeping our pipes clean so that we can cover everything we eat in ranch dressing and not fear the consequences.
Here are some incredibly awesome ideas I have for recipes that use ranch dressing. I haven’t actually made all of these, but I don’t need to, because you know they’d be totally badass based on the descriptions. Think of it as Hidden Valley Fantasy League.
Ranch huevos rancheros nachos
Make egg salad, but replace the mayo with ranch dressing and some hot sauce. Spread refried beans onto individual tortilla chips, top with some egg salad, chopped fresh jalepeños (jarred are for wusses), shredded cheese and more hot sauce. If you use baked tortilla chips, this is actually a health food recipe.
Ranch dressing funnel cake salad
Think of it as a taco bowl but not made by Latino employees at Trump Tower. Take a plain funnel cake, and top it with pot roast that’s been slow-cooked with ranch dressing powder. Sprinkle with sautéed onions and red peppers, raw scallions, corn and more ranch dressing. This doesn’t even actually exist in the universe, but I’m ready for nap time just from visualizing this.
Ranch dressing 7-layer dip
First you put down a bed of lettuce, then top with tomatoes, McNuggets, ranch dressing, sliced avocados (for health), french fries and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. I have absolutely no idea how you would eat this. Ladle?
Editor’s note: Bare hands.
Whip cream cheese with ranch powder, and roll into small balls. Make risotto with white wine and ranch dressing, wrap around the cream cheese balls, bread, and deep-fry. If this were at the state fair, it would be gluttony, but because it’s Italian, it’s elegant. If people aren’t convinced, sprinkle the arancini with chopped parsley. That’ll fool ’em.
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