A Vignette on Vinaigrette
When it comes to making a proper French vinaigrette, I defer to such francophiles as Chef David Lebovitz. His food blog written from his adopted home in Paris is as delightful as a mound of chocolate profiteroles.
Though each cook has his/her own variation on the classic oil-vinegar blend, there are rules. First, Lebovitz declares you must use good Dijon-style mustard. I’m okay with that. I spent a few hours in the Maille mustard shop in Paris a few years ago, tasting the wares and becoming a believer in fine French moutarde. (See below)
While most French cooks use Maille or Amora, Lebovitz describes himself as a fan of Edmond Fallot mustard, a brand that’s been around since 1840. I’ve never used it, but understand it’s available at Walmart, Sur La Table, and Amazon. Some of the jars even come inside a small, tin pail with the brand’s logo, which quadruples the price, but leaves you with a memento of your purchase. But I digress . . . back to the vinaigrette.
The next ingredient that Lebovitz insists upon, and never leaves out of a dressing, is shallots, cut very fine. He also uses sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar and lets the shallots “pickle” in the liquid. Don’t use balsamic, he advises, because it’s too syrupy for a dressing.
Far be it for me to embellish upon the recipe of so fine a chef, but I add a dab of honey to the ingredients listed below. But that’s solely a matter of personal preference. So whisk, taste, and adjust before serving.
French Vinaigrette à la David Lebovitz
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
- 1 Tbs. sherry or red wine vinegar
- 1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced (about 1 Tbs.)
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3-4 Tbs. olive oil
- fresh herbs, if desired
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, vinegar, and shallot. Let stand for about ten minutes.
If you wish to add fresh herbs, it’s best to chop and mix them in shortly before serving so they retain their flavor. Storage: This dressing will keep for about 8 hours at room temperature. If you want to make it ahead, add the shallots closer to serving so they don’t lose their verve.