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 ok 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 favourite is burnt onion ranch.
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 flavour profile or distract from overly synthetic, factory-made flavours.
I added it to a batch of packet ranch, tasted it, and found my self fantasising 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 flavour 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 favourite dressing using a blender.
I highly recommend buying a packet of ranch 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.