Many people choose store-bought salad dressing for its convenience, but the truth is making it from scratch is neither complicated nor time-consuming. To prepare a vinaigrette, all you need is a base of oil and either vinegar or lemon juice, optional mustard, and whatever seasoning you like. But since oil and vinegar don't readily combine with each other, they're typically emulsified. This simple culinary technique involves mixing the ingredients vigorously enough that they're forced to bind to each other, ultimately forming a homogenized mixture.
Unsurprisingly, Jacques Pépin is a fan of making his own salad dressing, describing the store bought kind as "dessert" due to the high amounts of added sugar. However, contrary to what is commonly done, the celebrity chef doesn't believe in fully emulsifying a vinaigrette. As he demonstrated during an episode of his cooking show "Jacques Pépin: Heart and Soul" that was republished to YouTube, instead of using a whisk or an immersion blender, he simply puts the ingredients in a jar then stirs them with a spoon before giving it a quick shake. This results in an incomplete emulsion, which according to Pépin, is actually a good thing when it comes to salad.
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Why You Shouldn't Fully Emulsify Your Salad Dressing
Incomplete or broken emulsions typically ruin the appearance and texture of a dish. For instance, a ganache with poorly combined chocolate and cream won't create a stable cake filling, and a hollandaise with separated eggs and lemon juice won't have the desired effect on eggs Benedict. But when it comes to vinaigrette on a salad, an incomplete emulsion works better. "Vinaigrette should be separated so that you can toss the salad and the whole thing is glossy," Jacques Pépin explained on his cooking show. "If it's all together like a light mayonnaise then it glues to the leaves and you have a big glob of it there, when in fact you want the whole thing to be glossy and nice."
To achieve the consistency Pépin recommends, avoid being vigorous with the blending or whisking. Visually you want to see some separation in your salad dressing even when the oil and vinegar are mixed together. You'll know you've gone too far if the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
How Jacques Pépin Makes His Salad Dressing
The "glossy" factor of a salad doesn't just depend on the emulsification of the dressing, it also has to do with its ratio of oil to vinegar. For his vinaigrette, Jacques Pépin uses roughly four times as much red wine vinegar as olive oil. Pépin says you can use more or less depending on how vinegary you like your dressing, noting in one of his YouTube videos that the more vinegar you add the runnier your dressing will be. If you want a runnier consistency without the vinegary taste, a tablespoon of water, can also do the trick, Pépin mentioned on the "Heart and Soul" episode.
Since Pépin makes his vinaigrette the traditional French way, he also uses mustard in his recipe, but doesn't measure it and instead uses an almost empty jar, to which he adds the oil and vinegar along with salt and pepper. If you plan to use all the dressing immediately, Pépin suggests adding shallots and garlic, but otherwise, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper is all you need. Make sure not to fully emulsify these ingredients, and you'll have the perfect salad dressing every time.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.