No, that’s not my usual high definition picture. I don’t happen to have a bottle of Kraft dressing around, actually. Suzen and I live on a make-from-scratch basis. So, the next time we want Thousand Island Dressing, we’ll use the recipe below from Virgil’s Barbecue in Time Square. The Virgil’s team scoured the South for the best recipes in barbecue, sides and condiments.
Funny, I always imagined Thousand Island Dressing being born, not in the South, but somewhere in Polynesia, the ingredients and the techniques ancient and exotic. Like many of you, I grew up with Thousand Island as a staple: on salads, on sandwiches. My goodness, left over roast beef on French bread with Thousand Island? [Or Russian? More on that to come.]
Actually, Thousand Island is not from the South or Polynesia. It’s from the 1000 Island district of the St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada. Invented by local housewife, it drew attention and publicity in the early 1900’s. It has a base of mayonnaise spiked with chili sauce. As you can see from the recipe, there’s a herd of ingredients that you would not necessarily expect to be pooled together: celery, pimento-stuffed green olives, pickle relish, a hardboiled egg. Just stuff from a farmhouse pantry. Yet when combined, they yield something we can all recognize. The dressing is wonderfully generous in flavor. Just a sniff and you salivate.
It’s true, that some of us confuse Thousand Island with Russian Dressing. Russian Dressing, of course, was created by a chef to the tsars who spent a decade mastering the nuances to …
No, that’s not true. Russian Dressing was invented in Nashua, New Hampshire by James Colburn in the early 1900’s. He’d probably had Thousand Island with its base of mayo and chili sauce. What did Colburn do? He mixed mayo and ketchup. He kept the pimentos and added horseradish.
Important parts of our culinary heritage are thanks to people who just loved to tinker. So, if you are feeling inventive, grab a jar of mayo and then see what is red-colored and on your shelves. I would suggest that you keep the pimento.
Virgil’s Thousand Island Dressing
Yield: 2+ cups
- 1 2/3 cups mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped bread and butter pickles
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of cracked black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until completely incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Sources: Virgil’s Road Trip Barbecue Cookbook by Neal Corman with information from Wikipedia