French Laundry Staff Meal Salad Dressing

Sometimes at lunch, I really just want a nice salad.  Unfortunately, a lot of places offer commercially prepared salad dressings whose flavors sometimes leaves something to be desired.  Over the years, I’ve been making salad dressings from cookbooks (such as Nobu, etc) and bringing them to work and dressing salad ingredients form the campus cafeteria.  So today, I thought I’d try the salad dressing used with the staff meals from The French Laundry Cookbook (p 117). Looking at the recipe, I didn’t want to make too much.  So I reduced the batch by a factor of four.  As fate would have it, I’d forgotten to buy a batch of Davidson’s pasteurized eggs from my local Star/Shaw’s market (dang!).

For the salad dressing –

3/4 tsp chopped garlic (here, I used the grated garlic technique from Nobu Matsuhisa)
3/8 tsp (1/4 t+ 1/8 t) chopped shallots (finely minced)
1 tsp+1/2 tsp+1/4 tsp (Maille) Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large egg yolk (quantity from the original recipe)*
2 oz grapeseed (was canola) oil

Salad dressing components

To mix up the dressing faster, I felt I should start with the mustard and then move on to

Dijon mustard measured out

mincing up the shallots.

Shallots to be added to the dressing

As I noted earlier, I vastly prefer grating my garlic, since it seems to add more flavor.  So then at this point I added the shallots and garlic to the bowl and measured out a tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.

Shallots and grated garlic added to the mustard with 1 tablespoon of balsamic to be added

Once I mixed in the vinegar, the whole mixture took on a darker hue with a creamier texture – no doubt from the emulsifiers in the mustard.

Combined ingredients before the addition of the oil

Once I’d blended in the non-oil ingredients, I added 1 pinch of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and began slowly pouring in 2 oz of the grapeseed oil bit by bit and blending the oil into the mix as best I could.

the addition of the grapeseed oil

I transferred the mix to a small glass vial that I could take to work.

Salad dressing, ready to take to work!

Once I got my salad ingredients from the campus cafeteria back to my office desk, I poured in about 3 to 4 tablespoons of dressing and mixed the salad as best I could with some salt and black pepper.  On tasting the salad, I expected a weighty flavor, given the creaminess of the salad dressing.  I was surprised, however, how light and aromatic it was and how the salad was complemented by the dressing and how I could still taste all the salad components.  Thank you for sharing this recipe, Chef Keller!

Update

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (p.315), has simple great recipe for another vinaigrette. The online recipe can be found here;

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/house-vinaigrette-231347

the microbatch recipe for it is:

1 T dijon mustard
2 T red wine vinegar
6 T grapeseed/canola oil

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