Ranch dressing got its name because it was first mixed up and served at the Hidden Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara. Hidden Valley was a dude ranch in the '50s and '60s run by Steve Henson. Ranch was based on a recipe Henson first developed for hard working workers in Alaska who wanted a calorie-rich dressing. He made it from a mixture of mayo and buttermilk. When he opened his ranch, he tweaked the recipe a bit for the more refined tastes of his LA patrons.

The dressing soon came to over shadow the offerings of the ranch itself. People began to visit just to buy a jar of the dressing. Eventually he created a powdered version for sale in grocery stores. The dude ranch business was shelved and the land was converted into a mixing and packing center. Eventually volumes increased so much that the small road that ran to the ranch couldn't handle the truck traffic and the operation was moved to Nevada.

In 1972, Henson sold the dressing to the HV Food Products Company.

For a while "Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing" had the market to itself but other salad dressing manufacturers quickly "reverse engineered" the product. Today ranch dressing or simply "ranch" has come to mean a creamy dressing with a buttermilk flavor.

Generic Ranch Dressing Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 clove garlic
2 pinches salt
1/2 cup mayo
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cilantro or parsley
1 tbsp chives
2 pinches black pepper

Mash garlic, cheese, and salt into a paste. In another bowl whisk together the mayo, buttermilk, lime juice, cilantro, chives, and pepper. Then whisk in the garlic/cheese/salt paste.

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