Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dude Ranch Dressing

Did you know that Hidden Valley Ranch was actually a ranch?  It was!  It was a dude ranch that was opened in 1954 in California.  And the owners of that ranch really invented ranch dressing.  Their patrons loved the ranch dressing that they served, and so the owners actually opened up a factory to produce the dressing packets large scale.  A star was born!

If you don't know what a dude ranch is, I'll tell you.  A dude ranch is like a vacation spot where you can go and see how the ranch works and maybe even do some of the work, ride horses, be a cowboy for a few days.  It's like the movie "City Slickers" with Billy Crystal.  Have you ever seen that movie?  It's really funny.  They call it "dude" because that's what Westerners called people from the East Coast.  I call my son "Dude" sometimes, but he certainly doesn't do any cowboy work or ranching.

So, while thinking about ranch dressing and cowboys, I decided to make a baked pasta featuring ranch.  And I guess I was also thinking about a sandwich because I made it like a chicken club sandwich with chicken (obviously), bacon, tomatoes and cheese.  I guess you could consider the pasta as the "bread." 

Grab your ranch packets, Dudes and Dudettes!  Let's go!

1lb cooked, shredded chicken
1 lb penne pasta
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 C shredded Parmesan
2 C sour cream
1 C chicken stock
1-2 packets Ranch dip mix (depends on how ranchy you want it)
1/2 C Ranch salad dressing
1/4 C chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper
Shredded pepper Jack cheese (as much or as little as you like)

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onions until they are tender.  Add in the tomatoes and chicken and one of the Ranch packets and the garlic.  Cook and stir for about a minute.  Add in the cream cheese and stir until it's melted.  Add in the sour cream, chicken stock, bottled Ranch, and Parmesan cheese.  Cook until it's all combined and heated through.  Taste it to see if you want the other packet of Ranch.  (I used both).  Add salt (if necessary) and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.  Mix the drained pasta with the chicken mixture.  Put it in a 9x13 casserole dish and sprinkle the pepper Jack cheese over the top.
Bake about 15 minutes until the cheese is browned.

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