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
“I would touch the wall as I walked up the stairs,” Suzen began, “and if it was warm, I knew she had made latkes. She made great latkes.”
Suzen recounts visiting her grandmother in a 3rd floor walkup in Brooklyn. Her grandmother was one of many Jews who came from Bialystok, a town in Poland that has been Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Swedish, and perhaps a few more. A trading center, everyone wanted Bialystok, to control it, but a lot of people could not live there.
Suzen raves about her grandmother’s latkes saying they are the best. Anytime we eat out and sample one, she will contemplate and pronounce that they are nowhere near the originals from the Brooklyn apartment.
So, I finally asked: “Did your grandmother make Russian dressing.”
“Sure,” Suzen said, and I waited for a wondrous recipe, “it’s mayo and ketchup.”
I was underwhelmed. But, as fortune would shine on us, Suzen and I have a copy of Maximum Flavors. And here we have a very interesting new salad: kale slaw topped with Russian dressing. This Russian dressing is not just mayo and ketchup. There’s lots more to it and the results are simply dazzling.
Maximum Flavors is devoted to new ways, new concepts to cook at home. This salad is a great example. You are used to marinating things, like meat, fish … Who ever heard of marinating a salad. But this kale slaw requests just that. At least 2 hours and Suzi did about 6. The result? That kale with its formidable skin is transformed into a delectable crunchy treat.
Kale was not on the culinary horizon for a few years ago. Now it is everywhere. Kale chips, with chipotle of course, sit in $6 bags at Whole Foods. To really enjoy the purity of its dramatic flavor, try the kale this way. With real Russian dressing.
I bet a certain grandmother would approve.
Kale Slaw with Russian Dressing
Yield: serves 8 as a side dish
- 2 bunches kale, preferably Tuscan
- 1 large carrot, grated
- ½ cup / 100 grams mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s or Hellmann’s
- ¼ cup / 65 grams ketchup
- ¼ cup / 60 grams sweet pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon / 15 grams chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon / 15 grams chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon / 15 grams chopped carrot
- 1 teaspoon / 5 grams prepared horseradish
- 4.5 ounces / 125 grams Gorgonzola dolce cheese, crumbled
Remove and discard the kale stems. Finely slice the leaves about ¼-inch [6 mm]thick, then wash and dry them in a salad spinner. Put the kale in a bowl and add the grated carrot.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle juice, chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped carrot, and horseradish.
Pour the salad dressing over the sliced kale and carrots and stir to evenly coat the mixture. Put the kale slaw into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
To serve, put the kale slaw in a bowl and crumble the Gorgonzola cheese over the top…
Source: Maximum Flavor by Aki Kamozawa and Alexander Talbot
Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO-1600