When we talk about a great steak dinner we're really talking about the big picture of what's on your plate. The steak is front and center, but the sides are what makes it feel special. In fact, when it comes to steak dinners, a really good side can steal the show. In this series on Steakhouse Sides we're sharing recipes for the scene stealers so make sure you leave ample room on the plate!
A classic steakhouse meal opener, the cold wedge salad jazzes up your taste buds, ushering you into a great meal. There's a reason this salad is remembered so fondly and has remained so popular over generations: That decadent blue cheese dressing draped over cold and crispy iceberg lettuce is the best example of how simple, boldly flavored ingredients come together to create a side that strikes just the right balance of taste and texture.
Texture Is Key
Iceberg lettuce, the palest of greens and the crunchiest of lettuces, requires the eater to get that steak knife working. Paired with a bold and creamy dressing and fatty bits of bacon, it's a sneak peek of the richness that's to come.
The Blue Cheese Dressing
Since iceberg lettuce is rather mild, we can create a blue dressing with a level of pungency to our liking. Start by choosing the blue cheese you like best. Some blue cheeses are very pungent and some are milder; some are solid and some are creamy. Roquefort and Stilton tend to be on the bolder side, while Maytag and Gorgonzola have a milder, creamier flavor.
Keep It All Chill
To ensure your at-home wedge salad has that steakhouse flair, you're going to have to keep things cold. Keep the iceberg lettuce and salad dressing chilled until the very last moment. Place your salad dishes in the fridge until you are ready to serve for a very restuarant-y touch. The chilled nature of this salad really distinguishes this course from the rest of the meal, so these few extra steps can really make a great steak dinner at home feel special.
Iceberg Wedge Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
- For the dressing:
1 1/3 cups
crumbled blue cheese (about 6 ounces), divided
freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
bacon (8 ounces)
large head iceberg lettuce
small red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and separated into rings
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Place 4 salad plates in the refrigerator to chill.
Mash 1/2 of the blue cheese with the back of a fork in a medium bowl until mostly smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and black pepper, and mix thoroughly until completely combined.
Add half the remaining cheese and mix gently, leaving clumps of cheese here and there. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the salad.
Line 2 plates each with 2 layers of paper towels.
Cook the bacon in a single layer in a large frying pan over high heat, turning occasionally, until crisp and deeply browned. Transfer with tongs to the paper towel-lined plates; set aside.
Core the lettuce and cut it into quarters through where the core was. Place a wedge on each of the chilled salad plates. Divide the red onion rings and tomatoes evenly among the plates. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the dressing over each wedge. Scatter the remaining cheese evenly over them. Crumble the reserved bacon and sprinkle it evenly over the salads. Serve immediately.
Bacon substitute: If you have vegetarians to serve, skip the bacon and add about 1 cup of toasted walnut halves or skinless almonds and 1/2 cup of chopped, dried figs.
Lemon juice substitutes: Vinegar (cider, sherry, or white wine vinegar) makes a great substitute for the lemon juice.
Make ahead: The dressing can be made and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.