There isn’t much to it, as you know. Crisp cool iceberg lettuce is the base. It is slathered in a totally inappropriate amount of chunky blue cheese dressing. Then it is topped with bacon and often sliced red onions. It is a steak house staple and something we eat at home often. I just wanted to relay two little tips. One, it is painfully easy to make wonderful blue cheese dressing. And, two, there is a trick to reducing the pungency of red onions.
You will find a million recipes for homemade blue cheese dressing. They are only as good as the cheese you choose to purchase. It is a worthwhile pursuit to taste a few before buying, if you can. Some can knock you on your rear. Some are mild and creamy. It is not a one-size-fits-all program. A ten ounce hunk of cheese can run ten to twelve dollars. You will need four to five ounces for one batch of this dressing. One recipe makes about 1-¼ cups of dressing which can serve four people. Maytag was the best blue cheese I could get at my local grocer and it performed admirably. The only other ingredients are buttermilk, mayonnaise, and black pepper. Some people think using mayonnaise is cheating and that you should make it even more painstakingly homemade than that. If you want something more elemental, I say, go for it! But, I like this easy version. If you find the dressing to still be too pungent, you can add a little granulated sugar by the half teaspoonful. I prefer it without the sugar because I like the full taste of the cheese and don’t like to mute it.
Recipe for Blue Cheese Salad Dressing (makes 1-1/4 cups)
4 ounces blue cheese
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup mayonnaise.
¼ teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
1. Crumble the blue cheese into a small bowl. Add the buttermilk and mash the cheese and buttermilk together with a fork.
2. Add the mayonnaise and mix it in thoroughly. Add the fresh-cracked black pepper and a tiny bit of sugar, if needed. Place the dressing in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
I had read before that the culprit in an onion’s tendency to make you cry is a chemical reaction involving sulfur. These sulfur compounds are also responsible for their biting and pungent flavor. Each onion is different and some you can eat straight away and some can positively ruin a perfectly good salad with their off putting strength. I knew that it was a simple matter of rinsing away the compounds, so I looked for advice. One of my favorite websites, The Kitchn, suggests that you merely drop sliced red onions into ice water and let them sit for a few minutes. Then you rinse them and let them drain. I did this and it made a world of difference. Consider leaving a few slices of un-rinsed onion to compare with the rinsed. One little bath and rinse has a big impact. On top of this simple advice, several of The Kitchn’s readers left comments concerning bathing onion slices in balsamic vinegar, lime juice or salt. Given the right circumstances, I think any of those ideas could have a wonderful impact on a dish.
That is all I have. Make some dressing. Fry some bacon. Rinse some red onion slices, and have a big salad. I recently had a wedge salad with slices of tenderloin on top of it that was fantastic. It is a great way to split an expensive steak. Also, my daughter loves a wedge salad (cut up out of the silly wedge shape…which I still love) as long as it also has chopped apples on top. We all love apples on salads with blue cheese. If you have an iffy relationship with blue cheese dressing, don’t give up until you have tried it on a salad with both the bacon and apples. I have proof. Click on this link to see Lily eating a giant bite of blue cheese cole slaw, which is basically this salad chopped up with cabbage instead of iceberg. I get more positive feedback on that salad than on almost any recipe I have posted.
You should be aware of the importance of giving the cored, rinsed, and drained head of iceberg lettuce a chance to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to: drain more, chill more, and (I believe) kind of rehydrate from the rinsing and chilling time. I have on occasion, against my better judgment, rushed a head of iceberg lettuce from grocery store or fridge, rinsed it and quickly drained it, cut and served it only to find the residual water just ruins the whole effect. But, having been cored and rinsed right from the grocery, and drained and chilled in a Tupperware lettuce keeper (or just a resealable plastic bag with several folded paper towels under the core at the base of the resulting package) helps immensely. I try for at least two hours in the fridge in this draining position. Nothing is worse than a watery taste and feel to any lettuce.