Friday, May 17, 2013

The Salad Bar ~ Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing (Blue Cheese)



I've been making my own Blue Cheese Dressing for about 15 years. Prior to that, I never really cared for it much. The only exceptions were a few "house made" versions, from a handful of restaurants. I've tried several store bought or bottled versions over the years, but I've always come away disappointed by what I can only describe as... a funky aftertaste. I don't know if it's the result of too much vinegar, not enough sugar, or maybe it's from chemicals or preservatives, but whatever it is, not a single one that I've tried has ever come close to tasting like homemade. So, what do I usually do when I'm faced with this kind of dilemma? I made my own, of course!

This was a tough one, though. I think I went through 5or 6 incarnations before I finally had the balance I was looking for. Now, this recipe is to my taste (and my family's too) and I've had requests from friends and family, but you might prefer more or less of one ingredient or another. And that's OK. After all, that is what cooking is all about, right? When you taste and/or season your food as you're preparing it, you're more likely to end up with something that satisfies you and your family. I do hope that you try this recipe, but I encourage you to experiment with the ingredients. Just consider this as a kind of starting point.

...and have fun with it!


Creamy Gorgonzola Dressing
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Real Mayonnaise
  • 8oz Blue Cheese, crumbled (For this recipe, I used Gorgonzola)
  • 1 Tsp Brown Sugar (heaping)
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1-2 Tbls White Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbls Dried Minced Onion
  • Salt
** This recipe doubles or triples quite nicely and will last in your fridge for up to a week, tightly covered, in a non-reactive (no metal) container.


Start by combining the dried minced onion and vinegar in a small ramekin or bowl. Set it aside to allow the onions to rehydrate.

You might be wondering why I use dried minced onions. Well, there is a reason and it's about balance. Now, I've never been very good at chemistry, but there's actually quite a bit of it involved in cooking. We generally don't think about cooking as a science, but we do have a pretty good idea of what tastes good to us and what doesn't. The first time I ever made homemade bleu cheese dressing, I used grated fresh onions and found them to be much too harsh. The raw bite of the onion totally overpowered the flavors of the sour cream and the bleu cheese.


You want that subtle onion-y flavor, but you don't want it to be the first thing that you taste in a creamy, cheesy dressing. Dried onions are much milder than their fresh counterparts, but they need to be re-hydrated in some way. You could use water, but that wouldn't add anything extra to the overall flavor of the dressing.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, brown sugar, the Worcestershire and salt, adding 2/3 of the Gorgonzola. Set the rest aside. If you're not really a fan of mayonnaise, you can always use a cup and 1/2 of the sour cream. The dressing will be a little more tart or tangy, because the mayo is what helps to balance out the acidity in the sour cream, but it will still be very tasty!


Stir the mixture together (you could use a whisk or a fork) exerting a fair bit of pressure to help mash the cheese crumbles into the rest of the ingredients. This helps to disperse the rich flavor of the cheese more fully and also helps to thicken the consistency.


Add in the rehydrated onions. If there's more than a tablespoon of the vinegar left in the ramekin, you might want to drain off a wee bit. Mine had a only a bit more than a teaspoon left over, so I added all of it.

Like salt, vinegar gives a little flavor boost to a lot of foods (some that you would never expect, like a dark chocolate cake!) and it's acidity helps to cut through some of the richness of a creamy dressing like this. Of course, some vinegars are more or less acidic than others, so re-hydrating the dried onions in a slightly sweet vinegar, like the white balsamic or a red wine vinegar, helps to soften it's bite as well. So, they really do compliment each other... and the dressing.


Then, add in the remaining 1/3 of the Gorgonzola and stir gently to combine. If you prefer a completely smooth dressing, you can add all of the Gorgonzola at the beginning and mash it all at once.


Cover the bowl with a little cling wrap or a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, to allow all of the flavors to marry. I always taste the dressing at this point, to check for seasoning and more often than not, I end up adding an extra pinch or two of salt. I've found that dressings and dips made with sour cream will usually need a bit more salt, but it's really all about personal tastes.


We had Blue Cheese Chicken Salads, but you can serve yours over your favorite fresh greens, or you can go the classic route and serve it alongside your favorite spicy chicken wings or chicken fingers. It also makes a great dip for fresh veggie platters and as a creamy, tangy topper for roast beef sandwiches. Whatever you choose to do with this dressing...

Enjoy!

Mary





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8 comments:

  1. You, dear Mary, have just become my best friend!!! Ramon LOVES bleu cheese dressing. He LIVES for it! Nearly every day (seriously!) I make him a spinach salad with bleu cheese dressing. Because he's accustomed to hospital food (no adjectives required...I think we all know what I'm talking about here!), he'll accept just any ol' dressing. I could buy generic from Aldi's and he wouldn't know the difference! The thing is, though, that I know the difference, and I want him to have better!!! Plus, his salt intake needs to be monitored, so this would allow me to reduce the amount of salt in the dressing. I am pinning, printing, and probably having this recipe tattooed on the back of my hand!!!!!!!! :-)

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    1. LOL! Now that's one tattoo that I think would have just about any tattoo artist shaking their head!

      I'm very much aware of what you mean about hospital food, but as crazy as it might sound, our local hospital's cafeteria is actually a very popular place for locals (who aren't patients) to have breakfast and lunch. And you should see the gift shop! No, really. I'm not joking. lol Personally, I'd be OK if I never set foot in that place again... EVER. Not even for a gourmet lunch. ;~) But lots of folks seem to enjoy it.

      I probably wouldn't skip the salt entirely in this dressing, (because of the sour cream) but depending on the type of bleu cheese you use, it might only need a little pinch. Especially if you use kosher or sea salt. You'll have to let me know if you make it, OK? I'd love to hear what Ramon thinks! Have a glorious weekend! xoxo Mary

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  2. Hi Mary! Hope this find you well. I love blue cheese dressing. This really sounds so good to me, and I think would be perfect with chicken wings. Thanks for breaking it down for us, I think I can try this!
    Blessings,
    Susie

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    1. Hello, my friend! It's so nice to "see" you. :~) I'm hangin' in there. Hope all is well with you, too. It is pretty good with wings. And chicken fingers. lol I hope you enjoy it if you do make it! (((Hugs)))

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  3. I love love love blue cheese, blue cheese dressing, blue cheese on burgers, blue cheese on salads ... sigh. This looks AMAZING!!! All the right nuances to complement the cheese, the vegetables you pour it over, the chips you dip into it ... :)

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    1. Me too, Mary! I suppose the (subconscious) reason I started making it myself, was so that I'd have it in the house all the time. ;~) XOXO

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  4. oh man...I looooove Gorgonzola! Pinning...this would be amazing on my buffalo chicken pizzas!

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    1. Hi, Kim! Yummm! Buffalo chicken pizza with this dressing sounds delish!. I've only had it made with a "white sauce" base. I'll have to try it your way! Thanks for pinning it too! :~)

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