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Transform Any Creamy Dressing With Burnt Onion

Transform Any Creamy Dressing With Burnt Onion

Bacon bits optional

Bacon bits optional
Photo: Claire Lower

When you first begin cooking, you are told that burnt food is bad. If sitcom writers wish to communicate to their audience that a housewife is bad at her duties, they will often have her burn dinner, and possibly set off a smoke alarm so hilarity can ensue. But some things are really good burnt. Onions are one of those things.

Ranch dressing is good and—if its widespread appearance on fancy menus at fancy restaurants is any indicator—it seems that it’s finally becoming okay for serious food people to admit it. This surge in popularity has resulted in me eating a lot of “elevated takes” on ranch dressing, and I am not upset. I’ve had wasabi ranch and harissa ranch, but my absolute favorite is burnt onion ranch.

Aim for this

Aim for this
Photo: Claire Lower

Burnt onions are good in fancy house-made ranch dressings, but they’re also good in crappy store-bought dressings. They add a deep, roasted alliumy note, but they also add bitterness, which is an excellent addition if you want to shake up a monotonous flavor profile or distract from overly synthetic, factory-made flavors. I added it to a batch of Hidden Valley packet ranch, tasted it, and found my self fantasizing about selling it to hipster restaurants for financial gain.

I’m too lazy for salad dressing scams, but I’m not too lazy to add burnt onions to every creamy dressing I make or buy for the rest of my days (or at least until I get bored and move on to something else, as I do). A whole onion, sliced and burnt, is enough to flavor two cups of dressing. Start with ranch, but then try burnt onion blue cheese and burnt onion Caesar. To make a burnt onion dressing, you will need:

  • 1 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups of dressing

Halve and slice the onion into thin semi-circles. Heat the oil over high heat in a large stainless steel pan, add the onions, and sprinkle them with salt. Give ‘em a quick stir to get the oil evenly distributed, then leave everything alone for a bit. Once the onions start to burn, start stirring them occasionally, until they look like the onions in the photo above (i.e., burnt).

Remove the onions from the pan, let them cool, then puree them into two cups of your favorite dressing using a blender (immersion or regular). I highly recommend buying a packet of Hidden Valley mix and preparing it according to the packet instructions with the addition of the burnt onion. Two cups of ranch may seem like too much ranch, but two cups of burnt onion ranch is just enough.

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