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Shel’s Middle America Salad with Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

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While travelling around the US over the past years, I've come across many similar salads, most with prepared dressings and poor ingredients.  Here's my take on what some would call the American standard salad.


Shel’s Middle America Salad with Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing


Some hearts of romaine or iceberg lettuce wedges

fresh tomato wedges

rinsed, drained, and dried red kidney beans (optional)

thin slices of red onion (optional)

a few thick sliced bacon slices (optional)

1 Tbs best quality mayonnaise

1 Tbs good quality sour cream

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice or about 1 Tbs lemon zest, or combination

About 1 cup or more rich buttermilk

4 ounces Maytag or similar blue cheese

½ tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

dash or two of dry mustard (optional)


Divide the blue cheese into three pieces. Take one piece and chop it very fine. Take another piece and chop it medium fine, and chop or crumble the third piece in larger chunks.


If using bacon, lay the bacon strips on a roasting rack over a cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven until crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Remove when cooked to your liking, and set on several layers of paper towels to compete draining and to cool further. Cover with a few more layers of paper towels, and pat bacon dry, letting the towels absorb as much grease as possible. You can also put the bacon into a cold oven, and the slower heating will render a little more fat. Of course, some people enjoy a fattier bacon, so skip some of the drying/draining steps.


Put the mayo, sour cream, and the very fine pieces of blue cheese together, along with the salt, into an appropriately sized glass or stainless steel bowl (preferably one that comes with a tight fitting lid, but you can use plastic wrap to cover - try not to use plastic bowls as plastic can sometimes impart a taste to whatever is stored in it, especially if you’re storing the dressing overnight or for a couple of days) Using a fork or small whisk, mix together well. If you like you can put the mixture and about ½ cup of buttermilk in a blender or food processor for a few twirls or pulses to incorporate and smooth the mixture, but it’s not really necessary to do that, plus it makes more mess to clean up.


When all of the above is nicely combined (don’t over mix) add the rest of the blue cheese and optional dry mustard (start with just a pinch or two) and gently mix together very well by hand. Add more buttermilk a little at a time, mixing well with each addition. When you get the taste and texture to your liking (you may want to add a little more salt, a pinch or two more of dry mustard) cover the bowl and refrigerate at least four hours or, better yet, over night or a couple of days to let the flavors meld. The mixture may thicken up a bit when refrigerated, especially over night, so don’t be afraid to make it a little thinner than you may ultimately prefer.


Before using, let the dressing warm a little, stir the mixture, adjust seasoning, maybe add more buttermilk, mayo, or sour cream to adjust taste/texture, and dollop on your salad, ideally wedges of iceberg lettuce or, second choice for authenticity, the hearts of romaine (with any soft tips cut off)with nicely sized wedges of fresh tomatoes and the optional drained and dried canned kidney beans and a few slices of red onion. If using, break up and crumble some bacon over the salad.


When eating the salad, close your eyes and it will be easy to imagine that you’re in a diner in Omaha, Nebraska<LOL>


Notes: Ideally, you want the lettuce to be firm enough to stand up to the dressing, that’s why it’s suggested to cut off any soft tips. It’s your choice, of course. You might want to seed the tomato wedges depending on how moist and runny the tomatoes are. My preference is for thick sliced bacon. You can sometimes find slab bacon which you or the butcher can cut for you to whatever thickness you like. I look for meatier slices of bacon.

The Maytag blue cheese is a true, mid-American cheese, made in Iowa.  The Rogue Creamery in Oregon makes some nice blues, too.

Edited by Shel_B (log)
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