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Old 08-07-2002, 02:58 AM   #1
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How do I thicken a salad dressing?

I have had a most frustrating experience trying to make a special type of salad dressing know to a local restaurant here. I acquired the recipe thru the persistent asking of various waitresses over a period of several monthes. Once acquired,1 part balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of basil and touches of dry mustard, salt, pepper I then substituted 3 parts of extra virgin olive oil for what the restaurant normally uses (which is pomace oil)as the emulsifying agent. Since the restaurant emulsifies the dressing to achieve its thick consistency, I tried to emulsify the solution in a electronic mixer by "drizzling" in the extra virgin olive oil after all else was mixed, as the restaurant alledgedly does and it sounds like most chefs do when emulsifying these kind of engredients.
The frustrating part is that when I try to achieve the restaurant's thick consistency, more often than not, it remains the thickness of the olive oil instead of becoming the restaurant's far thicker solution. I feel like no matter how long the mixer runs and how slowly I think I drizzle in that last ingredient of olive oil, it fails to thicken 90 percent of the time....what might I be doing wrong...is it probable that the restaurant uses pomace oil and not extra virgin oil as I do because drizzling in pomace oil will more predicatably produce thicken dressing? Am I doing something else wrong,for example,speed of the mixer, I have 8 settings.....should I not mix in some other ingredient beside olive oil til last?
It is very frustrating to try and replicate the consistency of the dressing and I know the thickness is necessary since the thinner dressing runs down to the bottom of the salad bowl rather than adhering to the salad leaves (Is better adherence to the dressing leaves a property of pomace oil too and is that why they use this alledgedly"inferior product". I cannot speak to the restaurant only the waitresses since I have been told by a few of the waiters that the ingredients are a company secret and not for consumer information.

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Old 08-07-2002, 09:42 AM   #2
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Hi richard,

mmmmmmm...... by electronic mixer do you mean blender or a hand mixer.

Do you think there is any egg in it? Egg will thicken a salad dressing. If you're worried about using raw egg you can use egg substitute or coddle the egg first. As in a Caesar salad dressing, without the egg it would be pretty runny. Just a thought.

To coddle an egg bring a small pot of water to a fast boil and gently place the egg into it and cook for 45 seconds.

The only other thing I can think of is if you are using a hand mixer you should use a blender and really whip it good, like you would a homemade mayonnaise (which has egg in it also) but the fast blending will really thicken the oil quite well.

From what I've read about different oils I would stick to the olive oil you are using!

Please let us know what you try and what worked. Thanks for stopping by.
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Old 08-07-2002, 04:24 PM   #3
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Hi Richard,

The emulsifying agent in your recipe is mustard,not oil.I see you are using a dry mustard,personally I have never used this product before,but I have made this type of dressing hundreds of times with a dijon mustard and works every time.

Place the balsamico and the mustard in a bowl and slowly
drizzle in the oil and use a hand wisk to incorporate.


I believe the dry mustard is the culprit.
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Old 08-07-2002, 05:55 PM   #4
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foodaholic, after doing a little more investigating that is exactly what I perceived to be the thickening agent to be. I just haven't had a chance to get back here. Thanks for giving us some good advice!! Dry mustard was never mentioned but mustard was. You need to hang out here more often!!!!
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Old 08-08-2002, 01:44 AM   #5
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I will try both methods....first I will use the egg...try raw first, rather than coddle, right...if this doesnt work (or taste is not correct)

I will then try the second suggestion and that is to substitute regular mustard or dijon mustard with other engrediants and then drizzle in olive oil while mixing in electronic mixer.
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Old 08-08-2002, 08:47 AM   #6
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you have a few problems here. First is the getting the primary emulsification going. It is possible they are not using eggs, but it complicates your situation if they are not or you don't. dry mustard could be your emulsifying ingredient but they are using more than a simple pinch of it. To get a dressing to emulsify you need two things air and an emulsifying agent, which in the case of mustard or eggs is lecethin. The best item for getting air into this will be an emersion/stick blender, followed by regular blender, then a food processor, then an electric mixer then a whisk.

You need to start by getting the primary emulsion going. which will be 2 egg yolks if you are going that route or 2 tablespoons of dry mustard if you go with that. Start by whipping the yolks until they change color add your spices and seasonings whip more, then 1/4 cup of balsamic. You should whip ths until it is completely mixed and frothy then slowly ad 3/4 cup of the oil. if you are using an emersion blender, food processor or regular blender you can simply poor the oil very slowly if you are using an electric blender use 1 tablespoon at a time and then if you are using a whisk use 1 easpoon at a time and keep whicking until every drop is completely emulsfied.
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Old 08-08-2002, 11:14 AM   #7
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My advise would be not to use a blender. A blender can cause the part of the dressing in the bottom to get far to hot and this can retard emulsifying.

Dry mustard keeping things from emulsfying. Not hardley. I have been making my own mayonaise all my adult life and my mother before me and our recipe has dry mustard in it.

I have always had some trouble with dressings holding their thickness if there is no egg.

Is this a realy thick dressing like a mayonaise or is it just a sort of thickish vinegrette?

I would suggest using a hand held electric rotary mixer or one of those emersion blenders. Mix everything very well first, then begin adding the oil, no more than one teaspoon full at a time. If this doesn't work, do try adding egg.

When adding egg the perportions are, for one whole egg you will need 2 cups of oil. If you don't want to use 2 cups of oil, crach the egg, break it up with a fork and just use part of it. (incidentally all those mayonaise recipes that tell you to use 2 egg yolks: well, I have made mayonaise for decades using one whole egg)

And for those who are affraid of eating raw eggs, go to my website: www.thequestingfeast.20m.com and go to the trivia page. You will find a link to a site that tells about egg safety. It seems that you have a chance of getting an egg infected with somonella once every 84 years. So go ahead, enjoy our Ceaser salad, mayonaise, egg nog and steak tatar!

And, good luck with your dressing.
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Old 08-08-2002, 11:23 AM   #8
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geraldine the reason you never have a problem with mayo is the
egg, you can leave out the mustard entirely and will emulsify.

The dijon will emulsify without egg,easily.
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Old 08-08-2002, 11:30 AM   #9
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Of course I know that the mayo will emulsify with or without the mustard. My point was, that it wasn't the mustard that was keeping it from emulsfying. I use mustard, dry or prepaired in almost all my dressings, vinegretts etc.
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Old 08-08-2002, 11:52 AM   #10
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I want to know what kind of blending wands you guys are using. The one I have does not incorporate air at all into the product. I have to use either a blender or a hand mixer for that. A blender I found thickens a dressing I make quite nicely and it has no mustard, no egg.

geraldine - I'mwith you on the raw egg stuff. If I'm gonna "go" from a raw egg then I'll just have to "go" LOL. I make Caesar dressing all the time and I figure they can just use me as a warning

However, I would not subject an older person, a sick person, or a child to the possability. By child I am thinking under 4?

I am going to go make this dressing right now and see how I can make it thick using richard's original recipe and my blender. I'll have an egg handy.

I don't think it's the dry mustard either, I just think it's in the length of time blending.

BRB with my oh so scientific results!!!! ;)
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