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. —Amanda Hesser
Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (you’ll need 6 to 8 cups)
thick slices bacon, cut into 1/ 4-inch lardons
tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
cup plus 2 tablespoons water
egg, lightly beaten
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.
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.
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.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.