Monday, February 1, 2010

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

I'm a huge fan of Alton Brown's Good EatsAlthough I watch alot of the Food Network's chefs, he is one of my all time favorites.  Most chefs walk you through the recipe while they make it, but Alton gives you the science and the history behind the dish....and he's funny!

Last week I happened to tune in to one of his older segments about classic recipes that aren't as prevalent anymore.  This one was a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing.  I haven't had one of those in years!  Dennis watched it with me and said it was also one of his old favorites, so we decided to make it over the "snowed in" weekend.

I started by boiling my eggs.....Alton used an electric coffee pot, which keeps the water under a boil and doesn't overcook the egg.  I don't HAVE an electric coffee pot....and I sure wasn't going to buy one just to make boiled eggs.  So, I used my old standby way of boiling eggs.
I start by putting my eggs in cold water, then I bring it just to a boil....turn it off, take it off the burner and cover the pan.....

....then let it sit for 15 minutes.

While the eggs were "not boiling", I prepared my spinach....
I listened to Alton on this one and bought the bunched spinach.....I usually buy either the loose or the bagged.  I wasn't so happy with my spinach.  That's a huge bunch, and I barely got enough for two salads...either it was yellowing or it was gooey.  I cleaned what I managed to salvage by putting it in a colander and tossing is under water....

....then I laid it out on a clean dish towel.....

Since I don't have a salad spinner (is that a foodie sin?), I pulled up the four corners and did the "airplane" with my arm (aren't you glad I don't do video?) so they would be nice and dry.  It worked....a little....I still had to pat them a bit to make sure they were good and dry.

Meanwhile, I had four slices of bacon baking in my "baby oven" at 400 degrees until they were crispy. 

Then I crumbled them and hid them....otherwise someone I know would have scoffed them up before I could finish the salad!

Now that all of the components were ready (eggs peeled and sliced, too), I started my dressing.  Alton says to use 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease....what?  I don't have that much....I used center cut bacon!  Sooooo, I scraped what I had out of the pan and into a saucepan on low heat.  I had about 1 tablespoon.....then I added 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and whisked that in, followed by 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (Maille, of course)...whisked all of that together.  Hmm....I really needed the other two tablespoons of bacon fat.  Oh well....I just added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisked it in...tasted.....yes!  Crisis averted.....even when I try to follow a recipe, I can't!

While the dressing is still warm, I poured it over the spinach leaves and tossed.  Then I put them in the salad bowls, added the eggs, bacon and sliced red onion...salt and pepper and VOILA!
It tasted just like I remembered...delicious.

Of course, now that I'm writing this post and reviewing Alton's recipe, I realized I forgot the mushrooms....yes, he sliced and added mushrooms.  Oh well....we didn't miss it, so I'll just add them the next time, which I'm sure will be soon!

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