A few years ago I took a week-long class at one of the most renown craft schools in the country. Along with 10 other women, I learned how to cook full meals – including cake, bread and cookie baking, and roasting on a spit – of the 18th century America. Not only did we stretch a hare along a pole over the fire, we foraged wild greens for our ‘potherb salats’, rolled pies with 24 layers of butter in the crusts, made stuffed apples and whipped up a giant desserty drink of the day called ‘solid syllabub’ (it’s amazing what they could do with suet back then, huh?)
One of the less daunting recipes from our class text was a salad dressing of the 1700’s. It called for many of the things we would normally think of when constructing a drizzle for our greens salads; oil, vinegar, salt, spices, and some prepared mustard or garlic. But the thing that made it different from any dressing I had ever made, was the chopped up hard-boiled egg. When you can mash and/or whiz a hard-boiled egg up into an emulsion of oil and vinegar, it provides a rich and creamy texture that’s light enough to bely its presence over your fresh veggies, yet packs a decadent mouth feel to compliment the crisp crunch.
It’s also a great way to bring a local meal to your table in the Dark Days of wintertime.
I grated up a head of cabbage and a long daikon radish (both regionally grown in SC) and set them aside. In a pan with a pat of lard (my butter wasn’t local) I sauteed some sliced up leeks (grown in Asheville) and once they had softened and released their fragrance a bit, I added them to the veggie mix. For the dressing…you guessed it: eggy dressing a la 18th century. One hardboiled egg (chopped finely) + a few splashes of red wine + some gallops of olive oil + salt + locally made mustard + local minced fresh garlic = creamy, protein-rich salad dressing for a sort of winterized cole slaw.
This I served with some slices of local bread (the bakery sources a lot of local wheat from a NC heritage grain initiative) slathered with some of the aforementioned mustard for a warming, healthy and fresh winter meal of local ingredients.