Home on the Ranch

DSCN6413Yup, ranch.  As in, that valley that nobody can seem to find.  That particular combination of savory, creamy, and tart that turns every one of us into dipper.  Yes, you too.  Don’t pretend you’re too good for it.

I’m here to tell you that you can make it.  And that it’s dead simple. 1  And that it’s (at least by Paleo/Feral standards) healthy.

First of all, WHAT THE HELL IS IT?  ‘Ranch’ is such an ingrained taste now that dividing it up into its component flavors seems a meaningless exercise.  The ranch flavor is complete and whole in the same way that Worchestershire (however the heck you spell it) or a perfect marinara sauce can be: balanced and indivisible.  It must be an old recipe, discovered by the old West settlers in…1954??  This can’t be right.  I call shenanigans.

Regardless of its lack of history and (IMO) undeserved white-trash connotations, ranch is a kickass flavor combo to have ready when you’re sick of Indian food.  Homemade spice mixes are an easy way to add deep and varied flavor to your cooking repertoire.  Expect more spice mixes to appear on the blog as I concoct them. 2  But THIS one, this PURELY AMERICAN RANCH spice blend, consists of:

  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1 tsp salt

That’s it!  Just stick it in a jar and shake it up, and you’re good to go!  I use it in a chicken and artichoke heart casserole 3, or to jazz up mashed potatoes like I did with the beef stew, or… well… to make ranch dressing.  Which is probably the only thing you had in mind from the first.

But that part is easy, too.  All you need is equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk.  I’d go with about a quarter cup each of the mayo and the dairy.  Then toss in some of your spice mix; start with tablespoon, mix it up, taste, and add another teaspoon at a time until it tastes good to you.

Let me know if you find any magic flavor combinations with this spice mix; I’ve heard of paprika and mustard seed being used.  Experiment, and tell me of your concoctions… 4

Ranchin' it up on Punk Domestics
UPDATE!  2/25/2014
So I got a reader request!  : D  So exciting!  I was asked to update the quantities so that a batch of the ranch spice would fill up a 1-quart jar.  After rummaging around for the synapses I used for mathing long ago, I figured that a multiplier of ten would be a pretty convenient way to update this whole thing.  The original recipe made about a third of a cup, so ten times that fill up a quart minus 2/3 of a cup, which is enough space to close up the jar and shake it around to combine the spices, rather than have to, I don’t know, whisk them in a bowl and then laboriously funnel them into the jar.  Anywhoo, here’s what I got.
1.25C parsley
.5C + 2Tbsp onion powder
.25C + 2Tbsp + 2tsp garlic powder
.25C + 1Tbsp dill
3Tbsp + 1tsp pepper
3Tbsp + 1tsp chives
3Tbsp + 1tsp salt
That’s the EXACT conversion there.  (Assuming I didn’t make a mistake.  I wasn’t great at math back in the day.)  Just to make things a little easier, I would go ahead and up the garlic powder to .25C + 3Tbsp.
I bet larger batches like this could be simplified even more so that you’re not using cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons all together, but I don’t want to give any measurements without testing first, lest I inadvertently trick my readers into creating an inedible garlic salt.  Which, now that I say it, probably wouldn’t be too bad, but I’m still not gonna guestimate too much here before I try it out myself.
-Josh

Notes:

  1. How many mystery novels out there have that title?  I’m thinking at least seventeen.
  2. Maybe a British spice blend, consisting of parsley, boiled potato skin, and a vague feeling of unease!
  3. Coming soon…
  4. That wasn’t creepy, was it?

Say something crazy!