As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we're making the effort to revisit some gold recipes and pick the brains that invented them. Today, it's co-founder Amanda Hesser, on the wintry side salad her grandmother whipped up with precision and ease.
Nikkitha Bakshani: When was the last time you made this salad?
Amanda Hesser: I haven't made this salad for a year or so, mostly because I do a lot of cooking ahead these days, but I have such vivid memories of my grandmother stirring the dressing in a pan with a feeble wire whisk while we kids set the table.
NB: Your grandmother and mother use escarole and Napa cabbage, respectively, but what other vegetables could you swap in its place? (In other words, could I pour this over Brussels sprouts?)
AH: Any sturdy green would work—kale or chard would be terrific, and the same with shaved Brussels sprouts.
NB: Would you say this is a versatile dressing? In what way(s)?
AH: It's versatile in that the ingredients are so simple that you likely have them already, which means it's at the ready dressing for any hearty greens you have in your fridge. Also, you can play around with the type of vinegar you use and change up the flavor if you like.
NB: On what occasion, or in what context, might you make/serve this salad?
AH: This is a friends-over-for-dinner salad—something you might put together to serve alongside roast chicken or grilled steak.
NB: Any tips or tricks to keep in mind, or tricky things to watch out for, when making this recipe?
AH: Be sure to whisk the hot dressing slowly into the egg so it doesn't fry the egg! (Author's note: See this hotline question if your dressing gets too watery.)
NB: What's your favorite element of this dish?
AH: The smoky tang.
NB: If this dish was a famous person, or a particular location, or a school of thought—what have you—who/which would it be?
AH: Even though this is an old recipe with Germanic roots, the vinegar and bacon fat fit right in with the strong emphasis on acidity and all-things-pork in today's cooking.
- 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
What would you use with hot bacon dressing? Let us know in the comments!