Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bobby Jay's Salad Dressing

I am often complimented on my salad dressing, so I will share my method here.

Italian Style

Generally, for an Italian style dressing, I take a little Italian red wine vinegar, whisk together with a tiny bit of tomato vinegar* and lots of finely chopped herbs, my favorites being tarragon and chives, and coarsely ground black pepper. I add a couple of inches of anchovy paste because it gives great depth to the dressing, without tasting of anchovy: this is my secret ingredient. But you can use salt. Then I whisk it all and add very good Italian extra-virgin olive oil until the texture is right. After I dress the salad, I add a sprinkling of grated fresh parmesan cheese, more black pepper, chopped scallions and bigger pieces of the herbs I used in the dressing base. An option is to cut a clove of garlic and rub the cut edge on the bowl before making the dressing.

* Tomato vinegar is a great product. It really is made of tomato, not just flavored with it, and adds great depth without the sweetness of balsamic. It is inexpensive but a bit hard to find. Available at the famous Kalustyan's, 123 Lexington Avenue. If necessary, you can substitute balsamic but very judiciously, please.

French Style

For French style, I use the same technique, but with French vinegar (Orléans or better still, if you can find it, Banyuls), French extra-virgin olive oil, salt instead of anchovy paste, and grated or shredded gruyère cheese at the end instead of parmesan.

I often make and save some of the French version, but can turn it into Italian by adding a little tomato vinegar and/or Italian red wine vinegar and finish with parmesan cheese instead of gruyère.

Classic Vinaigrette

For a great basic vinaigrette, I use Gordon Hamersley's "Classic Bistro Vinaigrette," published in his wonderful Bistro Cooking at Home, and enhance it by using generous quantities of fresh herbs as above - generally tarragon and chives but others are fine, too. It is so simple that I hope he won't mind my publishing it here.

1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped (about 1 TBS)
1/4 C red wine vinegar
generous pinch kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all but the oil together, then slowly whisk in oil until an emulsion forms.

I find this keeps pretty well in the fridge if you don't add the herbs until you want to use it.

Until now, I have eschewed creamy dressings and sweet ones, but I hope to branch out.

Bobby Jay

No comments: