A classic Roquefort dressing done plain and simple
Are you tired of the same-old, same-old salad dressing? Me, too.
How about reaching back in time to a classic dressing that was (and may still be) a most excellent salad dressing served at high-class steakhouses.
That's Roquefort dressing; simple, old-fashioned and uniquely wonderful. Many steakhouses of the past made it their prime dinner salad dressing, drizzling it over a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce, topping it with warm crumbled bacon. Pretty decadent.
In my first cookbook, I served up my reduced-fat version titled: Creamy Roquefort Dressing. I used nonfat mayonnaise (yes, there was such a thing), skim (nonfat) milk with a skimpy (less than half of the standard amount) crumbling of Roquefort cheese. I punched up my dressing's flavor with nontraditional minced fresh garlic.
Was my dressing good? It was barely OK; decent for a dressing that is primarily fat.
Today, healthy fats are hot and fat-free "fake" products have nearly disappeared.
Roquefort refers to a cheese made from raw sheep's milk, inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti (an edible mold) and, finally, cave-aged. To be called Roquefort, it has to be certifiably produced in the French village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
You might have had a non-Roquefort blue cheese if you tasted a Stilton (a British version made from cow's milk) or Gorgonzola (an Italian version made from cow's milk) or a Maytag Blue (made in Iowa from cow's milk). Those "blue" veins are what make blue cheese taste the way it does, tangy and salty.
It was true then and still is today that using the real thing, not some blue cheese substitute, helped make up for the other fat-reduced components of my low-fat recipe.
Re-creating an authentic classic dressing today was fun.
First, I looked at my recipe from 25 years ago and then researched what may be the "classic," landing on a recipe from Gourmet magazine from 1996.
Next, I headed out to a store where I could find "reasonably priced" ($11.99 a pound) real Roquefort cheese since it can run $21 (or more) a pound.
Finally, I assembled the remaining ingredients: a high-quality avocado oil mayonnaise, organic buttermilk, organic sour cream, organic red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper.
Some may notice that my new recipe is missing lemon juice. You're right. The classic uses fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
The recipe I found included comments from folks who'd made it, and many really liked the use of red wine vinegar over the lemon juice. I agree.
The dressing's a breeze to make. I whisked all the ingredients together and then added crumbled Roquefort cheese. Yes, it looks lumpy; it's supposed to.
To be authentic, I cut a chilled wedge of Iceberg lettuce, drizzled some of my new dressing over it, sprinkled some chopped oven-roasted bacon over that and dug in.
Wow. Really. WOW. No wonder this dressing's a classic; it dresses up very ordinary lettuce into something spectacular.
Give it a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at email@example.com.
New Classic Roquefort Salad Dressing
1½ cups sugar-free mayonnaise
1/3 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled coarse (about 1 cup)
In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the Roquefort until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the crumbled Roquefort into dressing until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. Makes about 3 cups.
Nutrition values per 2 tablespoons: 126 calories (94.7 percent from fat), 13.4 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 0.4 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g sugars, 0 g fiber, 1.3 g protein, 22 mg cholesterol, 186 mg sodium.