Sunday, December 14, 2008

Where We Introduce the Weekly Series: Things You Should Know, but May or May Not

Number 1: How to make a Vinaigrette.

I like to cook, and I like to cook correctly. And I'm lazy. This is why the vinaigrette is perfect. Yes it's primarily a salad dressing*, but what it really is, is a sauce** and in the right hands a grand tool in your repertoire, but in the wrong hands, or poorly made, a thing of great evil.

You can use this for fish, chicken, veg, forcemeat, anything. And it is quite easily the easiest thing to make, short of microwave popcorn.


1/3 cup vinegar. (hence the name. And you can use white wine, red wine, balsamic, rice wine - anything you want. But please, for the love of everything holy, use good stuff***)

1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil**** (see above, this is not the time for the cheap stuff - this is 80% of your sauce. Get some good, virgin oil. It doesn't need to be expensive Tuscan pressed by nun's tits stuff*****, it doesn't even need to be Italian - Greek is good, so is Turkish and Syrian, the Spanish are coming on, and even are the folks in California

salt (kosher) and pepper to taste******

1 tsp Dijion Mustard

optional: Finely chopped******* herbs, shallots, roasted garlic******** ( I like to leave a clove in for 20 minutes and then remove prior to serving)

Equipment: Medium Mixing bowl, whisk

Mix. (how fucking hard was that?) Actually, you should add all the ingredients but the oil, and then add the oil in a thin stream while you whisk- it will keep the emulsion together.

Then use it. Enjoy. You're welcome.

Next week: A Springsteen album you need to have.

*Three mistakes you probably make serving a salad. I know I did. 1) Dry your greens. If they have water on them, the oil will not adhere to the leaves. You know that deal about oil and water? Better cooking through science. 2) You add WAY-TOO-FUCKING-MUCH DRESSING. You want to taste the high quality greens, not the sauce. The sauce is a condiment. This applies to pasta as well. If you have a pool of sauce at the bottom of the bowl, you used too fucking much. 3) Dress the salad right before serving. The French call this a la minute, which means "right fucking now" if you do so, you will make your greens soggy.

**Most good cooks would rather eat their own fingers than present ANY course without a sauce. Learn this. Live this.

***We will return to this theme time and time again. Good ingredients= good dishes. Note: I did not say "expensive", just good.

**** I swear to everything that is holy and just, if I catch you saying "EVOO" I will rip out your heart and grill it. Same applies to using the word "Sammie" or using boxed broth. Be warned.

***** You didn't think I'd go this far without being in poor taste, did you?

******That means you taste stuff you're going to serve. Often. Why would you serve food you don't know what it tastes like? And don't wait till the last minute, what can you change then?

******Look up the word brunoise. This is a good time to do that.

******* Let's call this, optional, but just short of required. Fuck it, add the garlic. You'll thank me later. Even better, mince up a fresh crushed clove, and then add the roasted clove as well. Oh, and that jarred stuff? That's not fucking food.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I like white balsamic vinegar and rice wine vinegar in combination. If I'm using eastern flavors in the accompanying meal, I also add a very sparing dab of sesame oil.

I detest "EVOO," so I heartily commend your crusade against it.

And roasting potatoes in a vinaigrette with herbs de Provence is fantastic. I parboil them, the marinate them for a few hours. Always a winner.