Monday, January 26, 2015

The Paleo Review Ranch Dressing Blend

Happy New Year!  Can you believe that it's already the end of January?  I can't.  Today's post is a seasoning blend that I've been playing around with for almost a year.  Yes, a year.  I meant to get this posted a long time ago, but slowly it turned into a mountain of a post in my mind.  I have to remind myself that none of you know the plans I make in my mind and y'all won't miss a thing so long as the post provides some good information.  So here we go up the Paleo Ranch Seasoning, a.k.a. Poor Man's Sunny Paris, mountain.  

So, about a year ago, while going through my Pinterest feed, I started seeing several recipes that used ranch dressing mix to create quick and easy meals.  They all looked so yummy, but I know that there are a lot of nasty ingredients hiding in that hidden valley that shouldn't show up on my plate.  I figured, there has to be a paleo friendly way to get those flavors.  I found this recipe at Gimme Some Oven.  At first, I made the recipe as written omitting the dry buttermilk, but over time, I made two additional changes that made it a little more "ranchy" to me.  

I started using this blend on just about everything.  As I did, I realized that it had the same flavor profile as one of my favorite Penzey's blends, Sunny Paris.  Joy.  I love Sunny Paris, but it's such a versatile blend that when you start using it, it gets pricey to buy.  I've started calling my blend my Poor Man's Sunny Paris.  I almost made that the title of the post, but I don't want to ruffle Penzey's feathers by doing so.  Without further adieu, here is the recipe as I make it in my house. 

The Paleo Review Ranch Dressing Blend (a.k.a Poor Man's Sunny Paris) 

2 T       Dried Parsley
2 tsp.    Dried Dill 
2 tsp.    Garlic Powder
2 tsp.    Onion Powder
2 tsp.    Dried Onion Flakes
1-2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper (adjust to your taste)
2 tsp.    Salt (adjust to your taste or make a salt free version)

This couldn't be simpler to make.  Just measure out the ingredients, and mix.  I often save empty spice jars, so I actually use a funnel and and put the ingredients directly into the jar, lid on, and shake. I found this awesome collapsible silicone funnel at Big Lots for about 2 bucks that I love to use for this because I can smoosh the funnel to unclog any herb/spice blockages rather than tap the funnel that usually for me leads to a mess.  With that said, no special equipment needed.  

My usual set up.

Measure and funnel into the jar.

Smoosh if needed.
Lid on, shake, and enjoy!

I usually make at least 3 batches at a time.  If you buy your herbs in bulk, this really can become quite cheap to make.  In Austin, we have Natural Grocer's that sell good quality herbs spices in bulk bags like these. 

If you're not sensitive to black pepper, correct me if I am wrong, but this blend is AIP compliant to boot!  

As for the salt, I played around with different amounts and you may want to play with the amounts as well.  I like having the salt in the blend as it kicks up the ranch flavor and I'm not afraid of salt.  I've made it without salt and have always had to salt my food after, which I guess is fine if you want to use less salt.  I guess my point is, you can make this salt free, but it won't be as good, in my opinion.  

So what can you do with this blend?  Everything.  

One of the first things I did with this blend was to cook some Tendergrass Farms pork chops. Simply coated the chops with the blend, browned them for about 4-5  minutes/ side with a little fat (I used some lard), and finished in the oven.  You could do the same simple coat and cook method with chicken as well and could likely omit the oven step depending on the thickness of your meat.  

Next, I made a marinade with 1 part lemon juice (4 oz.) , 2 parts olive oil (8 oz.), and 1-2 tablespoons of the spice blend.  I blitzed the marinade in my mini chopper to emulsify it well.

I used this as an experiment with my foodsaver.  I divided 1 3/4 pounds of chicken thighs and marinated half in a zip lock back and half in a foodsaver marination canister.

I left them in the refrigerator over night and grilled them the next day.  Both methods were great, but the food saver batch was more moist and flavorful in my opinion.  If you have a foodsaver, getting a marination canister is worth a try.  Thinking about it though as I type, if you are using a small amount of boneless meat, you could try using a mason jar if you have a mason jar  sealing attachment.  I'll have to try that.  

I've even used the blend in burgers.  Yum.  I don't have pictures, but the blend works great in eggs too.  

Of course, I've used it to make Paleo Ranch Dressing.  Make a batch of your favorite Paleo Mayo, measure out how much mayo you'd like to make dressing out of and simply add the blend until its as "ranchy" as you would like.  The last batch I made I used about 1/4 cup of mayo and started with one 1 tsp. of the blend and adjusted up maybe a little and added salt until it suited my taste.  We got into a good paleo mayo discussion recently on Facebook recently when I mentioned this as a dressing.  

One of the most recent things I've done with the blend is to make some grass fed beef chuck roasts the slow cooker.  The roasts were pretty small, so I cooked both at once.  It was probably a total of 4-5 pounds of meat.  The result was mind-blowingly good and super quick to prepare. 

First, take your roasts, and coat them with the blend.  I do this on a baking sheet to contain any mess. The important thing here is to really coat the meat well.  This is not a time to be stingy with the blend.  If you're stingy with the blend, then you're roasts won't be as flavorful after spending all day in the slow cooker.  I should have measured for you, but I'd make at least two batches of the blend to cover a roast (or two) of this size/weight.  I'd err on making more than needed so you don't have to stop and make more mid-roast coating.

I made sure my roasts had the spice blend on all sides before placing them on a bed of peeled and cut up carrots.  I sprinkled the small amount of spice blend that was left on the tray on top of the roasts.  I love slow cooked carrots.  I had close to 3 pounds of carrots in the bottom of my slow cooker.  I'm not ashamed.  I put the lid on the cooker, and set it on low for 8 hours.  There is no need to add any liquid to the cooker.  The roasts will release lots of juice for the carrots to swim in.   

After 8 hours on low in the slow cooker, here is what I had.  No knife required.  Yum.  

Whew!  That was quite a post.  If you're looking for a new go to spice/herb/allium blend, give this one a try.  I'm fairly certain you won't regret it.  

What spice/allium/herb blend is your go to blend these days?