Making a Vinaigrette

Making a Vinaigrette

A vinaigrette is a combination of oil and vinegar that is usually held together - emulsified - with mustard. Making a vinaigrette is much like making a mayonnaise, except that a vinaigrette contains no egg yolks. In fact, most of the time, when you make salads, it isn't necessary to make a vinaigrette - the oil, vinegar and seasoning can just be tossed with the greens. We generally think of a vinaigrette as a cold sauce for salads, but vinaigrettes, both cold and hot, make excellent sauces for meats, seafood and vegetables.

Making Vinaigrette

  • Combine mustard and vinegar in a bowl, and whisk together until smooth.

  • Slowly work in the  oil. Extra virgin olive oil is used here, although the delicacy of finer oils is obscured by the mustard.

The type of vinegar and oil you choose depends on your taste. Using extra virgin oil for most vinaigrettes, but sometimes a tasteless oil, such as canola, is better for delicately flavored ingredients like carrots, the flavor of which might be overwhelmed by olive oil. Conversely, nut oils could also be used to sauce endive, curly chicory, cabbage and beets.

Standard proportions for vinaigrette are 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts oil. It's important to taste as you go, because vinaigrettes are more or less acidic depending on what acid you choose. For example, balsamic vinegar is somewhat sweeter, so you'll probably want to use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Lemon juice on the other hand is very acidic, so you'll probably need more oil. The goal is a tangy, but not biting taste.

If using mustard in the vinaigrette, start with about half as much mustard as vinegar. Mustard vinaigrettes are delicious with bitter or strong-flavored ingredients, such as chilled cooked beets or leeks.

When making a hot vinaigrette, the proportions of oil to vinegar will change, depending on how much you reduce the vinegar, swirl in oil to taste.

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