Amanda & Merrill

Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

September 24, 2010

Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

- Amanda

My grandmother, Helen Getz, does not waste words and she certainly does not waste bacon. Food in her world is "good" or "double good" if she really likes something. Her cooking is as practical as it is delicious -- a cuisine of thickened sauces, vinegar dressings and flaky pies.

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I grew up eating my grandmother's salads with hot bacon dressing. She makes hers with escarole; my mother uses sweeter Napa cabbage (which, in retrospect, I have no idea how she found in our small town in Pennsylvania). Bacon dressings usually consist of crisp bacon, bacon fat and vinegar. But my grandmother’s is first thickened with flour, then loosened with not only vinegar but water, too. Then, when it all seems a little watered down and hopeless, you thicken it with egg, which creates a little magic in the dish –- concentrating the texture, amplifying the vinegar and whipping up a delicious foil for the salty bacon.

Helen Getz’s Napa Cabbage with Hot Bacon Dressing

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (you’ll need 6 to 8 cups)
  • 8 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/ 4-inch lardons
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and set over medium heat. Render the bacon fat and brown the bacon, adjusting the heat as needed. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel, then pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat (approximate, don’t measure) from the pan.

2. Set the pan over medium low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Season with the salt. Gradually – and slowly! – whisk this mixture into the egg.

3. Sprinkle the bacon on the cabbage, then pour 3/4 of the dressing over the cabbage and toss to mix. Add more dressing as desired (I like a fair amount). Serve with grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes and beer.


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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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mariaraynal September 29, 2010
I loved the chapters in CFML about your grandmother, Amanda, so it's great to see her represented here, with such a terrific-sounding recipe. Shredded cabbage is such an underrated ingredient, so often relegated to bland, mayo-laden cole-slaw. But this, with the bacon and the red wine vinegar, is positively sophisticated and elegant. Would it be completely insane to finish it with a fried egg?
Creative C. September 26, 2010
My daughter called me last week, on her way over, asking if I could help her make coleslaw to take to a potluck and what to get for it.

I suggested a dish that came to mind that I had not made for 30 years; before she was born and that I'm thinking I did with my Dad, of the German heritage.

Now you have this...and it's so similar. I also caramelized some chopped onions and made my dressing with balsamic vinegar, mustard and celery seeds and her friends were crazy for it. Something old is new again!
fineartdaily September 26, 2010
This sounds like a wondrous, heart-stoping delight! And the suggestion to use bacon for further enhancing the delight of pop corn! Heavens to Betsy - I can't wait to try these divine ideas!
Karen_and_Charlie September 26, 2010
yum....sounds wonderful
AntoniaJames September 26, 2010
Your grandmother's version, with cabbage, is similar to something I often made for fall potlucks and casual dinner parties when I lived on the East Coast years ago, using a recipe in "The Gourmet Cookbook" from the late 1970s. It's called "Bacon Coleslaw" or something like that. The method is very similar, but the recipe called for more vinegar, plus some sugar (which I usually reduced, but added a touch of new-press apple cider). The killer secret ingredient in that dish was a bit of cream added at the very end. Yours sounds so nice. I bought some gorgeous napa cabbage in Chinatown, so I can make this tomorrow. ;o)
TexInTheKitchen September 25, 2010
You had me at hello. Hot bacon dressing...completes me. :faint:
theicp September 24, 2010
Hot bacon dressing may be the only dressing from here on out. Sounds delicious.
Amanda H. September 24, 2010
I hadn't made this in a long time, and now it's going back in rotation!
Kelsey B. September 24, 2010
I LOVE warm bacon dressing, too. And I love grandmothers' recipes, man, they really knew how to cook the good stuff!
Amanda H. September 24, 2010
Loves F. September 24, 2010
I love the vinegar and cabbage here... sounds so good! My grandma's warm bacon dressing is made with bacon fat and milk, the poured over green leaf lettuce w/red onions and bacon... sounds weird to eat super wilted lettuce versus spinach or cabbage, but it totally works.
Amanda H. September 24, 2010
Would like to try your version.
lapadia September 24, 2010
I LOVE warm bacon dressing!
thirschfeld September 24, 2010
In my neck of the woods we call this a Killed Salad, (pronounced Kilt Salat). Have you ever popped your popcorn in bacon fat? We do occasionally and it gives it a whole new meaning.
Kelsey B. September 24, 2010
OMG, popcorn in bacon fat sounds like heaven...
Amanda H. September 24, 2010
People in your neck of the woods know how to live.