Strong beef sparks stunning salad with silky shallot vinaigrette

Steaks and chopsRecently we have been happily patronizing Red Hog, a craft butchery and restaurant opened by our friend Bob Hancock of Blue Dog Bakery. Their meat has the kind of impeccable sourcing and careful trimming we’ve come to expect from England and Italy. We’ve quickly learned to depend on the sausages, roasts, chops and other meats we’ve picked up on several visits. We’ve also learned Michelle needs a bit of adjustment to dry-aged beef.

Dry-aged ribeye

We’re certainly no strangers to finely-aged beef, having enjoyed many meat courses at some lovely Michelin-starred restaurants. But like most people, we’re not all that familiar with using it at home. Dry-aged beef isn’t found in many U.S. supermarkets, nor in the farmers’ markets Gourmandistan prefers. Aging takes time, and the significant weight loss as the meat loses moisture means the beef costs more per pound. However, as any fancy steakhouse will tell you (instead of mentioning that sides are an expensive upcharge) dry-aging creates not only a more tender meat, but also a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste.

Dry-aged ribeye

While Steve has enjoyed Red Hog’s dramatically beefier-tasting beef, he has had to adjust his usual cooking times. An aged flank steak took much longer to cook than anticipated, though it may possibly be due to Steve’s forgetting to butterfly the steak before cooking. However, the strong aged flavor added to the already robust taste of flank was a bit too much for Michelle, who decided we might look for milder cuts in the future. Unlike deadheading flowers, this is the sort of challenge Steve can readily accept, so a ribeye steak appeared in Gourmandistan’s refrigerator only a short time later.

Steak salad with roasted shallot and garlic dressing

As we had some lovely late fall salad greens available, we thought about making a salad with steak as an element, balancing the strong beef with other bold flavors and textures. Shaved carrots, blue cheese, croutons and fried onions went into the greens along with the beef. To meld everything together, Michelle whipped up a “slightly cheffy” roasted shallot and garlic, sherry and mustard dressing. Roasting the shallots and garlic took a bit of time, but the end result was a smooth and tangy way to take the salad to another level. Salad season may be ending, but we’ll be be visiting Red Hog again to sample more dry-aged beef—though Michelle has asked that her next round come with steak sauce.


(adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

  • 1/2 lb. shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 c. dry sherry
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. + 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1/2 c. canola or other neutral oil

Preheat oven to 375° F. In a small ovenproof skillet, toss the shallots and garlic with the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the sherry. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Add the water and continue roasting, turning occasionally, until the shallots are soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes longer.

After shallot mixture has cooled a bit, add it along with remaining 2 tablespoons of sherry, sherry vinegar and mustard to a blender. Mix until smooth. With machine on, add canola oil and blend until emulsified. Taste for seasoning.


    • We’re so lucky to have access to such good foodstuffs here. Plenty to be upset about currently, but at least there’s that. I remember 20 or perhaps even 10 years ago practically crying in the grocery stores about how disgusting the selections were (and still are at the big chains, truthfully).

  1. You remind me how lucky I am here in Ireland where we have some of the best beef in the world and a decent number of quality butchers who dry age as a matter of course.
    Hope all goes well in Gourmandistan.

  2. it looks amazing + “… Their meat has the kind of impeccable sourcing and careful trimming we’ve come to expect from England and Italy..” : well, actually even here in super rich London, it is not easy to find really good meat: there are lots of what I call “chicken breast” butchers, i.e. boring butchers… it is especially difficult do find butchers who know well the different cuts/bits + for instance: tripe has almost vanished, caul is very very difficult to get, fresh, quality suet.. again.. difficult to get (at least on a pop-in-casually-without-ordering sort of way)… + on this salad: I often take this approach also for duck breasts and other rather expensive things: pan frying it and then slice it…
    + hazan (in Marcella cucina) has a lovely way with steaks: she pan fries it, rest it, slice it AND THEN the slices are briefly INSAPORITE (sauted) in oil, garlic and rosemary: really good. thanks for the mouth watering pictures! stefano

    • Too bad about London. We got lovely meat out in the countryside (in Herefordshire) a few years back. But, of course, the Italians do it best. 😉 That’s interesting about the Hazan method. I’ve done that before … but usually just when I’ve undercooked the meat! Who knew I was following the doyenne?

  3. Oh, those marbled cuts! And a salad right to my taste, balancing green with meat and cheese. But you´re right, that very meaty tasting meat isn´t something for every day, but once in a while, unbeatable.

      • Oh, I see! Honestly, I can so feel with you about what happened last week. If I can hardly believe it, how can you. Reading everything I find to understand why on earth this could happen and what´s going on behind the scenes right now. Or in the limelight – did you already order your bracelet ? Just kidding – if it wasn´t so very serious. Shameless people moving into the White house it seems, pretending to protect the “forgotten”. I can´t believe it. I could go on endless hours ( in fact I do).
        Hope you´re doing well anyway, and PS very glad you liked the osso bucco (now back to the important ;-)).

      • Oh well, that wasn’t fitting your reply, was it? It was meant to be a reply to your comment to the osso bucco post. Sorry! That´s what happens when I try to hold multiple threads. Confusion 😉

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