1.24.2005

Another recipe for The Sauce

The Sauce - really, I must come up with a better name. To call it by its ingredients, honey and balsamic vinegar sauce, belies just how extraordinary it is. Suggestions are welcome.

And so, although I love beets, for which I originally used The Sauce, I wanted more recipes that featured it, so I could eat it that much more often. Enter the dinner salad. Although not a vinagrette by any stretch of the imagination, The Sauce does feature vinegar mixed with another ingredient, which was the spark I needed. Arugula, naturally, because it is great in winter, has a flavor I admire without end that is a good foil for sweet things, and deals well with heat. (The Sauce likes to be warm.) Apples, too. Apples like honey, they like arugula, and I like them. Nice crisp tart-sweet apples, warmed and browned under the broiler. And to bring the two together, to make it more dinner than side, bacon. By then it wanted cheese. Blue, of course. But I didn't want the cheese in the salad, that would mess with my conception of the textures. The cheese would melt on the warm ingredients, and then would mix with the sauce instead of being draped in it. No, not in the salad. The salad had enough ingredients. Alongside, on focaccia. And since I'd have the the broiler heated up for the apples, we'd throw the focaccia with blue under it until it bubbled and browned just a tad. With the last of our case of 2004's Beaujolais Nouveau (one of my favorite years in recent history--very pleasant wine) dinner would be complete.

bnlabel2004


Dinner Salad of Arugula, Apples, and Bacon with Honey-Balsamic Sauce
two serious servings, with leftover bread

  • 8 oz bacon
  • 2 medium tart & crips apples, such as Cortland or Crispin
  • 1 bunch arugula (about six oz)
  • 1/2 cup best quality honey
  • 1/3 cup best quality balsamic vinegar (for notes on balsamic vinegar and honey, see the original post containing this recipe, Amarone Wine Feast. Scroll down to the bottom.)
  • Focaccia (we made ours from scratch. It wasn't worth it. Store bought is perfectly wonderful, if purchased from a decent bakery.)
  • 8 oz very creamy blue cheese (I used St. Agur from France, purchased at my favorite cheese store, C'est Cheese. It was amazingly creamy, dreamy creamy, with a good, clear blue flavor. Strong but not overpowering. Perfect for this dish.)
150stagur
Prepare the bacon.* Break or cut it into large chunks and set aside. Preheat broiler. Prepare the sauce by whisking together honey and balamic vinegar over low heat. Allow to remain on the heat, whisking occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the meal. Wash and dry the arugula, tearing off the bottoms of the stems. Tear into bite-sized chunks. Wash and core apples, but do not peel. Slice them very very thinly. If you have a mandoline, even better (I do not and was fine, but once again longed for this bit of convienence.) Lay the slices out in a single layer on a sheet pan, using two and broiling in batches if neccessary. Broil the apple slices until they are lightly browed, about 5 minutes.
Prepare the focaccia: slice in half horizontally and smear the inside of the bottom thickly with blue cheese. Place under the broiler until melted and bubbly and slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Broil the top half of the focaccia until lightly toasted, put the halves back together and compress firmly. Slice into thin wedges.
Assemble the salads: layer the arugula, then the apples, then the bacon. Drizzle the warm sauce over everything and serve with many wedges of the focaccia and blue broiled sandwich.

*I like to use Alton Brown's method, which involves laying the bacon out on a rack over a sheet pan and putting it in a cold oven, then turning the oven on to 400F. 30 - 40 minutes later the bacon is done. Not greasy, not burnt. Done and done well, without mess, without having to stand over the stove and attend to it.

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