October 2, 2007
I don’t remember exactly when it was that raspberry vinaigrette suddenly appeared on the menus of most restaurants; it must have been at least fifteen years ago. Then it started appearing on the grocer’s shelves. From nowhere to commonplace in a very short period of time, culinarily speaking.
It was such a good idea. Take something routinely tart, as a good vinaigrette is, and add the biting sweetness of raspberries. It wouldn’t work with strawberries even though a few strawberries scattered on a tossed salad with a creamy dressing does work. I can’t imagine blueberry vinaigrette, although I bet someone has tried it. But all in all, raspberry vinaigrette has been the winner in the “Come up with a New Vinaigrette” contest. It’s rather old-hat now, but still is popular.
There are many raspberry vinegars available nowadays. The strength of the raspberry flavor and also the sweetness vary from brand to brand. Some are too syrupy sweet for me and others are lacking in raspberry intensity. As I was tinkering with various combinations of ingredients for raspberry vinaigrette, I came up with a “secret” ingredient that bolstered the fruit flavor without adding too much sweetness.
I add a touch of Chambord, the black-raspberry flavored liqueur made in France. It is also flavored with herbs and honey. By itself it is very sweet, but diluted with the other ingredients in the vinaigrette, its sweetness is tempered. It does have alcohol in it, so be sure to consider your guests’ preferences or medical situations when you serve it to others.
I rarely make a vinaigrette according to strict measuring guidelines; it’s more of a hit or miss activity for me. Fortunately, it’s usually a hit. Here is my best estimate of the amounts used to produce a good raspberry vinaigrette. (If you don’t have Chambord, by all means, don’t go out and buy it just for the one-half teaspoon called for in this recipe.)
1/4 c. raspberry vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 t. salt or to taste
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. dijon mustard
2 T. light mayonnaise
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
1/3 to 1/2 c. canola oil
1. Mix the first three ingredients.
2. Add the salt and pepper, sugar and Chambord.
3. Whisk in the dijon and then the oil in a slow stream.
4. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more sugar if you like it sweeter, more Chambord, drop by drop, if you want more intense flavor.
I usually serve this on a dark green mix of salad greens, maybe a few sliced green onions, and a few fresh raspberries for a garnish.
Try it. Don’t hesitate to monkey with the amounts like I always do.