Port Wine Salad Dressing
Use port you are drinking, or buy a mid-range port if you wish. Don’t buy a great vintage just for this dressing, but don’t buy something really cheap, and NEVER buy “cooking” port or wine. Typically, any wine product labelled “cooking” will have salt in it. This was to discourage chefs of old from drinking the wine, but it was also made with inferior wine You could use hazelnuts and hazelnut oil if you wish as well. The wine used here originally was the Rabelo from Quinta Cruz.
3 tablespoons port*
2 tablespoons quality red wine vinegar
½ cup of light flavored olive oil, or grapeseed or avocado oil
¼ cup Toasted Hazelnut Oil** (La Tourangelle preferred for flavor consistency and California made)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
½ teaspoon very minced shallot
In a non-reactive bowl, combine the salt and pepper, thyme, shallot, and vinegar. Allow flavors to combine for 10 minutes. Add the port and whisk. Wait five minutes and taste. If the port/vinegar solution is too tart, add more port a little (1/2-teaspoon) at a time until the base tastes balanced.
Slowly whisk in the nut oil while pouring in a slow steady stream. After that is used up, slowly whisk in the other oil. Stop after you have poured in ¼ cup and taste the dressing. (Depending on the port and the oils, you may wish to stop there. The dressing should be a balance of sweet and a little tart. The vinegar is to help emphasize the flavor of the port, and the nut oil is to bring out the nutty flavors of the port as well as to counter the sweet fruity elements of the port.) In all likelihood, you will want to continue whisking in the oil, tasting as you go to strike the right balance. If needed, you can add more port to the dressing, then go on and adjust flavors as needed.
Use right away or keep in refrigerator 1 week.
Chef’s Notes: *The recipe is built around the Rabelo from Quinta Cruz, and it truly is the ideal choice here. **In lieu of the Toasted Hazelnut Oil you could use Toasted Almond Oil. And I still prefer La Tourangelle.
Use this dressing for salads with bitter lettuces and greens, especially those garnished with a sweet/creamy blue cheeses and fried Marcona or roasted California almonds. Drizzle on grilled pork or fish, or toss small grilled octopus in the dressing. Drizzle over toasts with Cabrales, or other strongly flavored Iberian cheese on them. You could use this dressing on braised or flash sautéed kales with ham in them, or drizzle onto grilled lettuces or endives.
Yield: Around 1 cup
Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen