Thursday, December 28, 2017

Firecracker Saltines

Saltine crackers get a flavor boost from a toss in a Ranch flavored, garlic and onion seasoned oil.

Firecracker Saltines

Y'all... make some of these to go with that Hissy Fit Dip I just posted. I swear you will love them together.

Although I've been acquainted with a version of these since the 70s, we got real close when The Cajun and I moved our household almost 4 years ago. No, we didn't get rich from my blogging (far from it actually) and get to build our brand new dream home from it.

Au contraire, we, in fact, bought a house that was older than the house we left. We moved from outside the city to town to be closer to the grandkids - and don't you know 2 years ago they went and moved on us! Can't blame them really. They got a bigger house for a great price and we're all in town and close still, so it's all good.

What does that have to do with these crackers you say? Well, during our move there wasn't much time for cooking or for the creative recipe writing process. We ate out more in those first couple months than we had in the 20 years before that, but I've long forgiven myself because, well, moving is tiring, but you still gotta eat.

During that time, I made these crackers many times - simply because they are an easy snack and paired up with some sliced meat and cheese, made a quick easy meal. These crackers are excellent with savory dishes too - like chili and protein salads like shrimp, tuna and chicken egg salads, as well as pasta salads. And dips.

You may remember a similar party and snack cracker from way back when, made with oyster crackers and seasoned with a packet of ranch dressing, and a few other seasonings including dill weed. Lots of folks still make those, but saltines seem to have been the cracker that brought it back to the forefront of these internet-connected days, while a mix of different crackers appears to be the current trend.

I still prefer the saltines myself. My Oklahoma friend, Tommie, who gave me this recipe, likes to use a variety of crackers and also makes her version super-fiery with lots of red pepper flakes and a little cayenne. Now y'all know I'm gonna use my favorite Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning, but with the sodium in salted crackers and the ranch seasoning mix, it can produce a rather salty result. Be mindful of all that with the crackers you choose, if you're restricted or salt sensitive.

These only get better in a day, so leave them be, except to stir them up every once in awhile - and try not to eat them every time you do (yeah, right). They are SO extremely addictive that you really will have a very difficult time staying out of them, but do try to save some for your party, because I promise you, these will be quick to go!

Some folks rave about using the packets of Italian dressing and seasoning mix instead, but I don't care for it. The first ingredient on the packet is sugar, meaning it is primarily sugar and just far too sweet for my taste, although if you have a serious sweet tooth, you may like it.

I did try the crackers mixed with one packet of Ranch and one packet of Italian and liked that better, though my favorite is straight up Ranch seasoning for both packets. The red pepper flakes are a personal preference according to the heat the you like. My friend Tommie uses 3 tablespoons while my preference is a little more than half of that. Use however little or much you like!

If you've never made these before, I know what you're thinking. Doesn't pouring oil all over perfectly good crackers just make a soggy mess? Believe it or not, it doesn't!

I like to divide the crackers and pour half of the seasoned oil mixture over the top of the layers. One 9 x 13 inch pan will hold 2 sleeves of saltines with enough room for stirring.

Once coated, cover and let the crackers rest for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Some folks like to toast them in a low oven, though I haven't tried it myself. Laid out on a rack in a single layer on a sheet pan, 15 to 20 minutes at 275 degrees should be good. You should be able to use melted butter instead of oil when baking them too. I might try that for New Year's!

These can be prepared in a zippered bag, though I think the bags hold on to too much of the oil and seasonings and with a 9 x 13 inch pan or Lock and Lock container like the one pictured below, I can use a spatula to dig that off of the bottom, each time that I turn the crackers. If you happen to have one of those giant-sized, cheese ball snack barrels (not that I'd know a thing about that), that'll work too.

Serve with assorted hard cheeses and cold cuts, with chicken or tuna salad, soups, stews and chili. Or dips!

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Recipe: Firecracker Saltines

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive time: 24 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
  • 4 sleeves saltine crackers
  • 1-1/2 cups cooking oil (vegetable, canola, light olive)
  • 2 packets dry Ranch Dressing and Seasoning Mix (like Hidden Valley original)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or Creole/Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed, optional
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Lay half of the crackers out in two 9 x 13 inch pans or the same sized, lidded storage containers. Whisk the oil and seasonings together and pour half over each dish; stir. Top with the remaining crackers and oil; stir again. Cover and let rest for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with assorted hard cheeses and cold cuts, with chicken and tuna salad, soups, stews and chili. Store in airtight container.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Toss crackers and lay on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden in color and toasted. May substitute 2 sticks melted butter for the oil when baking.

Cook's Notes: Be mindful of all sources containing salt if you are sensitive. Substitute chili powder for the Cajun seasoning, if you prefer. Use red pepper flakes to taste, depending on the heat level you want. I use about 1-1/2 tablespoons. May also substitute two dry Italian Dressing and Seasoning Mix packets, Taco Seasoning, other flavored mixes, or a combination of Ranch with any one of those.

May use a variety of crackers - various types of entertainment crackers, Cheez-its, Ritz, Wheat Thins, Triscuits and Oyster Crackers are all good choices. I prefer to use the 9 x 13 inch baking pans or Lock and Lock containers, but you may also use zippered storage bags to coat crackers if you prefer.


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