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Red Hot Riplets: Cooking with an iconic St. Louis flavor

By Daniel Neman • Dec 5, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Some say the taste of St. Louis is Provel. Some say it is frozen custard.

But I disagree. I think the true taste of St. Louis is the flavor of Red Hot Riplets.

Made by Old Vienna — and nothing says St. Louis like the words “Old Vienna” — Red Hot Riplets are ridged potato chips coated in an unusually hot blend of spices tempered by a little sweetness and the familiar flavor of barbecue sauce.

If you don’t mind the heat, they are marvelous. And you essentially cannot buy them anywhere except in this area (besides online).

We can cook with Red Hot Riplets. It may sound crazy, but it really works.

I began with an appetizer, because appetizers are a good place to begin. I started with the premise that if deviled eggs are good, and they are, then deviled eggs with pulverized Riplets in them would be even better.

To pulverize the chips, I put a bunch of them in the blender, turned it on low, and then watched helplessly as only the very bottom layer of Riplets were chopped. I tried mashing the chips into smaller pieces, but that did not make a significant difference.

So I turned to the food processor. That did an excellent job of chopping them, but they never did become the fine powder I was hoping for. Though semi-pulverized, they still had a fair amount of crunch. It turns out that is exactly what you want when you’re cooking with Red Hot Riplets — a nice, satisfying crunch.

When the ground Riplets were added to the mashed yolk and mayonnaise of deviled eggs, they made the dish even better. You might think that you could not improve plain deviled eggs, but mashed Red Hot Riplets do the trick. I don’t want to say the deviled eggs were superb, because that would be boastful, but if you want to say they are superb you will not get an argument from me.

With that success under my belt, I tried what I guess is another appetizer. Or something.

First, I cooked bacon nice and crispy. Then I simmered some real maple syrup until it was reduced by half, and I got the bacon temptingly sticky with it. And if there is one thing sticky sweet maple-flavored bacon needs, it’s the spice from Red Hot Riplets sprinkled over it.

It’s the kind of appetizer, or something, that condemned prisoners would want for their last meal.

My next idea was to use crushed Red Hot Riplets to thicken a soup. I thought a cream soup would work best, because the cream would cool down the fiery spice of the chips.

But once I made the soup, I did not want to ruin it by pouring in a jeroboam of Red Hot Riplets. So I merely crushed a few and sprinkled them on top, as a garnish. That gave the soup (I made cream of potato) just the right jolt of Red Hot flavor and crunch, like a consummate crouton.

I thought the chips might taste good on top of a sandwich, and in fact I piled a few on top of a hamburger (it’s good. Try it!). But I wanted to do more than simply add potato chips to a sandwich, so I decided to use them to make a new all-purpose condiment.

Uncle Dan’s Secret Sauce mixes mayonnaise and mustard and then spices it up with pulverized Red Hot Riplets. I tried it with a turkey sandwich, which it greatly improved, but it would also go well with ham, chicken and roast beef sandwiches. You may even want to try it on a hamburger.

For a side dish, I went back to the 1950s and ‘60s before remembering that the iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing is actually making a bit of a comeback these days.

All I did was make an iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, sprinkled with crushed Red Hot Riplets. Brilliant, right?

My main course, almost inevitably, was Riplet-Coated Oven-Baked Chicken.

If you’ve ever had chicken baked with Corn Flakes, you’ll know what I’m talking about — only this is much better. The Riplets enliven the chicken with that inimitable Red Hot taste that plays beautifully off the bland chicken, and they also give the meal a delightfully satisfying crunch.

Finally, for dessert I decided to combine two local favorites to create the most iconic St. Louis dish ever: Ted Drewes frozen custard topped with crushed Red Hot Riplets.

The thing is, you have to go easy on the crushed chips. Too much, and you wind up with Riplet-flavored ice cream — and there’s a reason no one sells Riplet-flavored ice cream.

But a light sprinkling of the spicy chips turns out to be the perfect foil for the smooth, sweet creaminess of frozen custard.

The slight crunch you get with each bite only makes it better.

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RED HOT RIPLET DEVILED EGGS

Yield: 6 servings

6 hard-cooked eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Slice eggs in half and remove yolks to a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork, and mix together with mayonnaise and Riplets until smooth. Use a spoon to refill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture.

Per serving: 233 calories; 22 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 194 mg cholesterol; 6 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 213 mg sodium; 30 mg calcium

* * *

MAPLE-GLAZED BACON WITH RIPLETS

Yield: 4 servings

8 slices bacon

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Heat syrup in a small pan until it simmers; reduce by half. Carefully brush thickened syrup on both sides of each piece of bacon, and sprinkle with Riplets.

Per serving: 167 calories; 9 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 7 g protein; 15 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; no fiber; 364 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium

* * *

CREAM SOUP WITH RIPLETS

Yield: 1 serving

1 cup cream soup (I used cream of potato soup)

1 teaspoon pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Serve soup hot. Garnish with riplets piled in the center.

Per serving: 158 calories; 4 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 13 mg cholesterol; 4 g protein; 24 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 1,533 mg sodium; 41 mg calcium

* * *

UNCLE DAN’S SECRET SAUCE

Yield: 6 servings

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Mix together ingredients. Spread 1 tablespoon on bread for ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef sandwiches.

Per serving: 77 calories; 8 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 4 mg cholesterol; no protein; 1g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 122 mg sodium; 6 mg calcium

* * *

WEDGE SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE DRESSING AND RIPLETS

Yield: 4 servings

1 small head iceberg lettuce, cut into wedge-shaped quarters lengthwise

1/2 cup blue cheese dressing

2 tablespoons pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Place lettuce wedges onto 4 plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons dressing over each one, and sprinkle each with 1/2 tablespoon crushed Riplets.

Per serving: 181 calories; 17 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 9 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 6 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 260 mg sodium; 35 mg calcium

* * *

RIPLET-COATED OVEN-BAKED CHICKEN

Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken breast halves

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

1 cup pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry on paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together egg and water with a fork. Place Riplets on a plate or in a bowl. Dip each breast into the egg mixture and coat with the Riplets. Place on the baking sheet and bake until crisp and done, about 45 minutes.

Per serving: 482 calories; 23 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 131 mg cholesterol; 36 g protein; 30 g carbohydrate; no sugar; 2 g fiber; 951 mg sodium; 102 mg calcium

* * *

TED DREWES WITH RIPLETS

Yield: 1 serving

1/2 cup vanilla frozen custard

1/2 teaspoon pulverized Red Hot Riplets

Place custard in a bowl and sprinkle sparingly with Riplets.

Per serving: 210 calories; 91 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 6 g protein; 22 g carbohydrate; 21 g sugar; no fiber; 78 mg sodium; 150 mg calcium

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