There's a New Cookbook That's Entirely About Ranch Dressing
Two quick facts before we start. One, I wrote the cookbook that I'm about to rave about. Two, it's entirely about ranch dressing. If you're into at least one of those things—blatant self-promotion and condiments with a cult following—then carry on.
Ranch dressing is not a neutral topic. Lampshades and doorknobs are neutral topics. But mention ranch dressing, and you'll get diehards on either side of the spectrum—people who swear by ranch on pizza, and those who can't fathom dipping a single carrot in the stuff.
That's one of the reasons why I wrote a book about it. There are all kinds of ways to use ranch dressing, which is what turns Ranch from a book about iceberg lettuce to a collection of 60 recipes that you might not have seen coming. There's ranch cacio e pepe, steak marinade, ranch-battered onion rings and more.
This book required a fair amount of research, not all of which took place in a grocery store aisle or kitchen. That included ordering a six-pack of ranch dressing soda, which smelled somewhere between essence of dirty toe Band-Aid and that time the family goldfish died but no one realized it for five days. It tasted better than the rotten pistachio I once accidentally consumed, but it's not exactly a one-to-one swap for your average soda.
Know someone that loves ranch dressing? Get your holiday shopping done early. Know someone that hates ranch dressing? Get it for them, too! Ranch is more than just a dipping sauce of all trade; it's a cultural phenomenon. Gwyneth Paltrow has said she'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a can, but she has a recipe for Old Bay ranch dressing in her book It's All Good. Melissa McCarthy chugged it to dramatic effect on SNL, and Melissa McCarthy is never at fault.
Go beyond the bottle and step into the word of homemade ranch, starting with this excerpt about somewhere you might not think to find ranch dressing: ice cream.
There's no dessert chapter in this book, and that was not an accident. There's a time and a place for ranch dressing—which I firmly believe is a whenever, wherever situation, à la Shakira circa 2001—but I'm fine keeping my chocolate bar away from my bottle of ranch. A separation of church and state, if you will.
But some chefs have taken it upon themselves to turn ranch into ice cream, taking the "dairy" component perhaps too literally. On her award-winning TV show A Chef's Life, Vivian Howard makes fried okra with ranch ice cream in an attempt to convert okra haters. Being the admirable chef that she is, she knows that the process of getting someone to like something includes (a) frying it and (b) serving it with ranch.
You'll find a bona fide dessert ranch ice cream at Little Baby's in Philadelphia, where cofounder and owner Pete Angevine calls it, "Hilarious! Confusing! Just like ranch dressing, but cold!" It's made by adding buttermilk, dill, chives, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to a grass-fed milk and cream base, and Angevine finds joy in watching people try it for the first time. "Like all great art, this ice cream flavor is divisive," he says. But true fans stand on the right side of that divide, because ranch lovers know a good thing when they see it. Little Baby's also makes pizza ice cream, so you can just combine the two and skip the whole act of chewing your food altogether.
It's a similar story at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream in Montana, where ranch ice cream is made with Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and comes with carrots on the side. "It tastes just like ranch but extremely chilly," cofounder Marissa Keenan says.
Potato chips or Doritos are not unheard of swirled into artisanal ice cream, and Sweet Peaks also makes avocado toast ice cream. You can even find Cheetos soft serve in New York. Ranch paved the way for this, so know that nothing is impossible.
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