Every time I am in Paris, I am mesmerized at how simple and delicious the classic bistro food is! The menus are long and extensive, but each and every dish seems to be accompanied by a petite salad dressed in a light and creamy vinaigrette – the iconic creamy mustard vinaigrette. There are thousands of cookbooks and online recipes with different versions on this classic vinaigrette with alternating ingredients and measurements. And truth be told, some of the ones I tried are really very good, just not what I remember from my Parisian experiences.
So I set off on my vinaigrette journey armed with an obscene amount of oils, jars of different mustards, whisks, and measuring cups. Batches and batches later I finally figured out a few small but important tricks to recreate this iconic dressing at home in Chicago; Crème Fraiche, a garlic press, and a combination of both olive oil & vegetable oil. Adding Crème Fraiche gave it more of a creaminess and tang, that when I left it out, it was noticeable in both texture and flavor. Instead on mincing the garlic and having the vinaigrette have small pieces in it, using the garlic press turned the garlic into almost a paste which incorporated into the dressing better. Finally, adding both the olive oil and vegetable oil was, I my opinion, the biggest key to my French Bistro Vinaigrette. Using all olive oil was too heavy in taste, and using all vegetable oil didn’t add any flavor. Using both was the perfect combination!
Making my French Bistro Vinaigrette doesn’t take more than 5 minutes and is the perfect accompaniment on a variety of salads, even ones with roasted vegetables and fruit. It is also quite lovely to decorate a cheese plate with – the mustard really comes through the dressing and amps up the flavors of certain cheeses, like Gruyere. It is also fabulous to serve alongside a crudité platter. Salad greens, vegetables, cheeses, and fruits are about to become even more exciting!
Watch my webisode on French Bistro Vinaigrette
French Bistro Vinaigrette
Ingredients (make 1 ¼ cups)
Egg Yolks – 1 extra-large, at room temperature
Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked
Champagne Vinegar – 2 tablespoons
Crème Fraiche – 1 tablespoon
Dijon Mustard – 2 teaspoons
Garlic – 1 clove, crushed using a garlic press
Vegetable Oil – 7 tablespoons
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before dressing a salad.
Tip: This is by far my most favorite vinaigrette and one that I keep constantly on hand. It can be prepared up to 7 days in advance and stored in an air tight container. Just remember to make sure you are using both fresh egg yolks and crème fraiche in order for it to maintain its shelf life.