Back in the good old days on High Street, the Feinbergs would get into to all kinds of mischief. Aside from the fact that we were all born with several screws loose, our parents worked long hours to bring home the mons and had a curiously difficult time finding babysitters who could handle the hot mess express. So when we weren’t running wild all over Uniontown in our tutus, we were making some seriously rancid shiz in the kitchen. Katy’s specialty was a sandwich made out of white bread and vanilla icing, Betsy liked to sneak spoonfuls of maple syrup, and I enjoyed a nice pat of raw Land ‘o Lakes butter every now and again. Hence the nickname “butterball.”
When we were around eight or nine years old, Larry finally starting teaching us how to make real recipes so that we could stop being disgusting animals. His very first lesson was how to make his signature vinaigrette. Now, you have to understand that what Larry loves most in the world – more than fishing, more than contraband cubans, even more than his wife and daughters – is CHORES. And to this day, if there is no more recycling to take to the dump (isn’t that what trash pick-up is for??) or shiz to bring up from the basement (excuse me but do I look like Chyna over here?), Larry can always just yell from the kitchen, “GIRLS, I NEED SOMEONE TO MAKE A VINAIGRETTE.” Even if he wasn’t planning on making salad for dinner. God effing dammit.
Anywhowho, it’s pretty much the perfect vinaigrette. Goes on any salad and you can always put a little extra ‘sumpin ‘sumpin in there to spice it up (just don’t go overboard). Here you go… thank me later.
- Approximately one tablespoon of good dijon mustard
- Approximately one tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Nice extra-virgin olive oil (see below on amount)
You’ll want to start with the mustard in a small mixing bowl (too big and it will be a bitch to whisk). Add the vinegar and whisk until it’s completely combined, meaning that no little bubbles of the vinegar should be visible in the mustard. You want it to be kind of gelatinous at this point, not completely liquid. If it is, add more mustard. When it’s nicely combined, add the salt and pepper.
Now comes the part that requires a bit of finesse. The trick to what makes this vinaigrette amazing is that you have to have to have to keep it from separating – oil and vinegar do not want to go together, and it’s up to you to whip their asses into shape. You’ll know if the dressing has separated if you can see little globs of olive oil next to little globs of vinegar. This means that you are a clumsy careless dumbdumb and you should quit while you’re ahead. Or just start over, whatever.
The way to do it right is to add the olive oil in little teensy bit by little teensy bit – like a teaspoon at a time. Add a teaspoon, whisk whisk whisk until it’s combined, and repeat a couple times. Then taste the vinaigrette. You do not want to taste any overriding hint of acidity or vinegar- it should be kind of sweet, kind of spicy, and you shouldn’t be able to taste one specific ingredient over another. Keep adding teensy bits of olive oil until you get that (if it needs more salt and/or pepper, add more but be sparing).
Once you’ve got the right flavor, BOOM, you’re done. Now you can dress the salad and tell Larry to shove it!
P.S. My favorite ingredients to add in for a little pizzazz are soy sauce if the meal has an Asian flavor to it, or minced shallot for a more oniony flavor.