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A Good All-Purpose Ranch Dipping Sauce

Overthinking the ranch . . .
difficulty:
yield:

¾ cup

time:

About 1½ hours to make the shallot and garlic powders, about 15 minutes to make the mayonnaise, and about 10 minutes to make the dip

introduction

This recipe was conceived as a simple ranch-style accompaniment to Beer-Battered Onion Rings. But it barely got past the point of conception. That’s because it’s not possible to make good ranch dressing with the commercial ingredients used to make ranch dressing. Those ingredients are, to review, mayo, sour cream, buttermilk, onion and garlic powders, and dried herbs. Say, as a work-around, you go premium. Fresh herbs don’t help. Fresh minced onion and garlic don’t help. Sautéed onion and garlic don’t help. Homemade mayonnaise does help, but a bright egg yolk turns snow-white Hidden Valley into a summer day—and a golden glow does not comport with the notion of ranch. Finally, we dropped everything we were doing and went all-out for flavor, making shallot and garlic powders from scratch. Extreme, yes, but they make a big difference.

And thus, a simple ranch becomes a townhouse—not really a ranch at all.

Cooking Remarks

If it sounds crazy to oven-dry garlic and shallots just for a dip, feel free to sprinkle from a jar instead. Or, if you have a food dehydrator, you’re already ahead of us. Read past the machinations of our improvised oven-drying technique.

To oven-dry shallots and garlic, we alternated between low oven heat (180 degrees) and convection fan, and no-oven heat and convection fan at intervals of 15 minutes. If your oven has no convection fan, don’t worry. The idea is to dry the aromatics crisp without browning. Shallots and garlic do not dry at the same rate, however, so separate baking sheets and times are indicated. Shallots’ high sugar content also makes them vulnerable to stickiness, so a silicone baking mat comes in handy.

The shallot and garlic powders each keep well in sealed containers—ideally housed with silica packs—for at least a month. Use them in the beer batter for the onion rings. And either of them, particularly the shallot powder, has appeal in other culinary applications, from roasted fish or vegetables to cottage cheese. Just like store-bought—but bespoke.

We chose not to add buttermilk, preferring a thicker consistency for dipping. But the dip would make a fine salad dressing if thinned with milk or buttermilk.

equipment mise en place

To make the shallot and garlic powders, you will need a digital kitchen scale, a rimmed baking sheet, a silicone mat, a ruler, and an electric spice grinder.

To make the mayonnaise base, you will need a digital kitchen scale, 1-cup liquid measuring cup, and a small whisk.

To make the dip, you will need a small bowl and a whisk.

  • for the shallot powder and garlic powder:

    • 2
      large shallots (1 ounce each), peeled
    • 6
      large garlic cloves, peeled
  • for the mayonnaise base:

    • 1
      large egg yolk
    • 2
      teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
    • 1
      teaspoon spring or filtered water
    • ½
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • ½
      teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ½
      cup (4 ounces) avocado oil
  • for the dip:

    • 2
      ounces sour cream, drained of any liquid on the surface
    • 2
      teaspoons shallot powder
    • 1
      teaspoon garlic powder
    • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 to 2
      tablespoons minced fresh chives
  1.  

    Make the shallot powder: Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 180 degrees; if the oven has a convection fan, turn it on. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat. Slice the shallots into rounds no thicker than ⅛-inch, preferably slightly thinner. Separate the rounds into individual rings and lay them in a single layer on the baking sheet (fig. 1.1). Place the baking sheet in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the fan running. Check the shallots. They should have begun to dry a bit. After 15 minutes, turn the oven back to 180 degrees and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, check the shallots. If they are uniformly light tan and appear crisp, remove them from the oven. If sections are still white or pale pink, turn the oven off and leave the shallots to dry for another 15 minutes; remove the rings that color more quickly from the oven before the rest. Two or three on/off sessions should produce crisp, straw-colored shallot rings (fig. 1.2). Transfer the shallots to a plate and let cool completely. Using an electric spice grinder, pulverize the shallots to a powder (fig. 1.3). Transfer to a small airtight container, add a silica pack if you have one, and seal well.

  2.  

    Make the garlic powder: Cut the garlic cloves lengthwise into slices, no thicker than ⅛-inch, preferably slightly thinner. If green germ appears in any of the slices, use the point of a paring knife to remove them. Separate the slices and lay them on the same silicone mat just used for the shallots (fig. 2.1). Use the same drying procedure as for the shallots, noting that the garlic slices will dry and crisp more quickly. They will probably require only one on/off sequence. When all the slices are a pale golden color, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool completely (fig. 2.2). Using an electric spice grinder, pulverize the garlic to a powder (fig. 2.3), then transfer to a small airtight container, add a silica pack if you have one, and seal well.

  3.  

    Make the mayonnaise base: In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, water, salt, and mustard. Whisk until the mixture is frothy, about 40 seconds. Now, while whisking constantly, dribble the oil into the yolk mixture one drop at a time until the mixture is thick and emulsified. Add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly (fig. 3.1).

  4.  

    Make the dip: In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and the mayonnaise. Stir in the shallot and garlic powders and the chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    1. 1.1
    2. 1.2
    3. 1.3
    1. 2.1
    2. 2.2
    3. 2.3