Where did ranch come from?

Published 12:08 am Saturday, January 31, 2015

I found myself doing recipes that had ranch in the title and wondered where ranch dressing got its name. The creators of ranch dressing are Gayle and Steve Henson from a dude ranch outside Santa Barbara, Calif. The name of that ranch was Hidden Valley Ranch. The Hensons opened the ranch in 1954 and visitors came to enjoy horseback riding and taking in the scenery. However, the more memorable experience of these trips was generally the taste of the homemade salad dressing served at the ranch. On the menu of the dude ranch was a special salad dressing made of buttermilk, mayonnaise and a dry mix of herbs and spices. The dressing became known as ranch and soon was the only salad dressing served.

The rest is history. More and more guests liked the dressing and Steve Henson knew he had a success on his hands. The problem in the beginning was the powered packets needed users to have on hand the buttermilk and mayonnaise, and many households did not keep buttermilk on hand. Steve Henson sold his brand in 1972 to the Clorox Company for $8 million, and the company decided to make it easier for customers. So the age of bottled salad dressing began and with the addition of preservatives, it did not have to be refrigerated. It could last 150 days.

Ranch dressing is very popular, and ranch really grew when restaurants began using it in their recipes. Ranch became a dipping sauce on burgers, sandwiches and chips. Hidden Valley Ranch is the original ranch dressing but many other companies have their own versions. The dressing is now in more than 30 countries.

These recipes just seem appropriate for the Super Bowl tomorrow, but I found the chili delicious for any time. So get some mayonnaise or buttermilk and work on the Ranch dressing with a few new twists in these recipes.

Taken from January/February 2015 ‘Food Network Magazine’

Chili with Ranch Sour Cream

Serves 6-8

For the chili:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

2 red jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 pounds ground beef chuck, (I used grass fed, of course!)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans (do not drain)

1 bay leaf

For the Ranch Sour-Cream:

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (Ours self-seeds and we have plenty but you can buy it or you can use parsley.)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Canned fried onions, for topping (I left out)

Make the chili. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chipotle, chili powder, cumin, coriander and oregano. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well coated, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water if the mixture gets to dry, about 3 minutes.

Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to a medium low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 40-45 minutes. Remove the bay leaf; season the chili with salt.

Meanwhile, make the ranch sour cream: Combine the sour cream, vinegar, cilantro, chives and scallions in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ladle the chili into bowls; top with the ranch sour cream and onions.

Hot Ranch Crab Dip

Serves 8

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 clove garlic, finely grated

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Kosher salt

3 scallions, thinly slices

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for topping

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked through

Paprika, for topping

Toasted bread or crackers, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 375°. Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk and flour in a large bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon zest, garlic, parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt; beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions, chives and crabmeat and continue beating until combined.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow 1-quart baking dish; sprinkle with more parmesan and bake until lightly golden and heated through, 25-30 minutes. Top with paprika and more chives. Serve with bread or crackers.