Does anybody else out there watch America’s Test Kitchen? It’s on one of my pbs channels (yes, ONE of them, I get like six, what up with that?) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, so you may be led to believe that it is totally square to watch. It doesn’t have any flashy celebrachefs or contests or bizarre ingredient challenges, so don’t think this is a Food Network brainchild. In fact, it is actually the show counterpart to the fabulous amazing wonderful magazine Cook’s Illustrated. So they show you the verybestmostperfect way to cook a certain dish and explain all the experiments they went through to find that method. And there is also always some kind of product lineup review. Anyways, suffice it to say it is amazing and wonderful and I always learn awesome new tips and tricks.
A few weekends back I watched the show and they made a simple vinaigrette dressing. Now about two years ago I learned a delicious and easy dressing from my friend’s mom that basically consists of dijon mustard, oil, and vinegar. She has this great method of just tossing all the ingredients into the salad, eyeballing the amounts. So sometimes it’s an especially tangy salad, or maybe a bit more spicy, depending on how the ratios end up. I absolutely love it.
But what I learned that was especially valuable on this particular episode of
Teach Me All the Ways to Be a Goddess Cook America’s Test Kitchen was how to make a masterfully emulsified salad dressing. Now this may not sound important or notable, as it sure didn’t to me, buttttt apparently a well emulsified dressing is actually one of the best ways to get that light and underdressed, yet perfectly coated effect that restaurants always do so well. Each piece of the salad has all the flavors of the dressing; you don’t end up with one oily bite and then one vinegary bite. Instead, every bite is perfect.
So what’s the secret? Don’t shudder… I know you will anyways if you’re an American reader…. it’s mayonnaise. Yep, apparently the yolk in an egg is a masterful emulsifier (even more than mustard, which is also helpful). So the egg in mayo is perfect.
I have definitely been raised as a no-mayo girl, so believe me, the idea of regularly ingesting mayonnaise makes me a little sick to my stomach. However, you will be happy to know that it just takes a little bit to get the dressing to emulsify well. And I use vegan mayo and it still gets the job done (don’t ask me how…).
SO. Without further ado, herein lies the secret to perfect dressing every time: a babyspoonful of mayo (vegan or otherwise). And here are the steps I took most recently:
2. More mustard than mayo (these measurements are noooot very exact)
3. Mmm mmm drown those condiments in balsamic.
4. Add the pepper and fancy salt (I will never go back to regular salt when it comes to cooking. For baking, I’ll use iodized raingirl kind.)
5. Whip that sucker together
6. Add the oil of the gods, the oil of olives
7. Whisk again. They did it in this order on the television show, so I will forever whip everything together before the oil. I think it makes a difference in the emulsification?
8. Dress your salad! Give it something fancy to wear!
No, this is not the most beautiful salad ever, I made it in five minutes so don’t judge. However, it is tangy and well-dressed so it can go out and paint the town red. And there you go. Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for making me the best salad dresser this side of the Rockies. Or at least a contender for that title.