French Dijon Vinaigrette
This traditional French recipe uses the science of emulsion to create a vinaigrette dressing that doesn't separate.
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar (plus a little extra if needed at the end)
1-2 Tablespoons finely minced shallot (you may substitute onion, but it is not traditional and will have a much stronger taste, so you may want to use less)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (measured into a small bowl)
A few grinds or pinches of black pepper
1. Choose a "non-reactive" bowl, such as stainless steel or glass, to work in. Why? Vinegar is a natural acid, and can leach chemicals and/or an unpleasant taste from a plastic or other type of metal bowl.
2. Add the vinegar, shallot, salt and mustard to the bowl and use a wire whisk to mix them together. The mustard should be completely mixed in, so that you can't see any globs, before you move on to the next step.
3. The next step works best as a 2-chef operation, so find a friend to help you! One person will be in charge of the whisk, and the other will add the olive oil.
White Wine Vinegar?
Good white wine vinegar is made from white wine but there is no alcohol in it! All the alcohol has evaporated away, leaving nothing but great flavor behind. Delicious vinaigrette depends on delicious vinegar, so don't substitute plain white vinegar.
4. Begin whisking the vinegar mixture, and slowly dribble a Tablespoon of olive oil into it, just a few drops at a time, so that it can be instantly whisked in. If you add too much at once, it will be much harder for the emulsion to work. As you add the olive oil, bit by bit, give the mustard time to attach each bit of oil to the vinegar before you add more. (Click here to learn why this works!) If you start to see drops of oil on the surface of the vinaigrette, stop and vigorously whisk until it disappears, before you add more. Keep adding the oil, whisking as you go, until it has all been added.
5. Sprinkle a few pinches or grinds of black pepper into the vinaigrette, and mix it in.
6. Lightly dip a lettuce leaf or other veggie into the vinaigrette and taste it. Depending on the strength of the vinegar you are using, you may feel that it needs a bit more, or it may be a bit too strong. If it tastes too vinegar-y, you can add more olive oil (whisking it in as you do). If it seems to need more vineger, you may add a bit at a time, whisking it in as you go. If it still doesn't seem quite right, you can try adding a bit more salt or pepper, or both. When it tastes so good you want to keep tasting it, it's finished!
6. Your French Dijon Vinaigrette is ready! Drizzle it onto your salad just before serving it, serve it as a dip with veggies, or use it as a marinade or sauce with poultry or fish. This recipe makes enough to keep some in a glass jar in the fridge for later. (Follow the same instructions with double the ingredients to make a big batch to keep on hand.)