When warm weather comes around, a nice salad with sliced beef can be a perfect meal!
It does not take much effort to make a salad pretty and classy. When creating a composed salad presentation, picture where the featured ingredients will be placed before assembling the plate of food. Then go with the flow! The ingredients should flow with each other to create an appealing display. A good mind set for designing a composed salad is to think of the project, like composing music or art. The hands will follow the mindset.
In fine dining restaurants, carved garnishes are considered to be very tacky. A clean concise presentation with no gimmicks is the goal for presenting fine food and all of the ingredients on the plate should be edible.
Many second rate restaurants just toss some sliced beef with lettuce, onions and tomatoes, then it is plopped it all in a salad bowl. That kind of salad presentation resembles a kitchen garbage can! The beef in a steak salad is the featured ingredient and beef is not cheap. The beef should be presented as a featured ingredient and it should not be tossed with the greens. When the beef is hidden by the lettuce, it causes customers to say "Where's the beef?"
Even worse are the second rate restaurants that served pre-made bottled salad dressings. During twenty years of cafe and fine dining chef work, I never used a pre-made salad dressing. As a chef, I rarely ever purchased pre-made mayonnaise. Chefs make fresh mayonnaise and fresh salad dressings in cafes and fine dining restaurants. Fresh salad dressings are far better than any bottle dressing.
Mayonnaise is considered by many to be the sixth French mother sauce. Vinaegrette is too. Beurre blanc is also considered to be the sixth French mother sauce. Technically these are all emulsions and they are not sauces. Emulsions are accompaniments that can be used as sauces, but they are not classic mother sauces.
There are many variations of vinaegrette recipes. Some master chefs say that a vinaegrette always has a precise proportion of oil to vinegar. That is incorrect! The vinaegrette oil to vinegar proportion should be adjusted to the items that is is being served with. Vinaegrettes are nearly always customized, so the vinegar or oil proportion is best suited for the featured item. Acidic ingredients, like lemon, can take the place of vinegar in a vinaegrette.
Many Italians prefer lemon over vinegar, when making a salad dressing. European chefs along the mediterranean sun coast prefer higher proportions of good olive oil. Many chefs in central France prefer to show off the superb flavors of mustards from Dijon in their vinaegrettes. Vinaegrettes with a high proportion of vinegar are necessary for certain applications. Vinaegrettes that are made with fruit vinegar rarely require mustard or olive oil. A vinegrette is considered to be a sauce of its own and each vinaegrette has it's own set of rules as to the proportion or choice of ingredients. A chef's creation!
Vinaegrette texture is another important choice. For some items, an emulsified smooth refined vinaegrette is best. A partially emulsified vinaegrette is another style. A stirred "loose" vinaegrette that is not emulsified at all is yet another style of vinaegrette. Not only does a chef have to consider the flavor of the combined ingredients and the oil to vinegar proportion when designing a vinaegrette, a chef also has to consider what texture and appearance is best suited for the need. A chef who is a master of vinaegrettes is an artist!
Dijon Fennel Vinaegrette Recipe:
Place 3/4 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard into a small mixing bowl.
Add 1 pinch of ground fennel seed.
Add 2 small pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of coarsely chopped anise bulb green top leaves (florence fennel green top leaves).
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
Stir the ingredients together.
Let the vinaegrette stand for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
Salad Set Up Plate:
Center a mound of mixed baby lettuce on plate.
Surround 3/4 of the mound with groups of these items:
- sliced mushrooms
- sliced Roma tomato
- sliced Bermuda onion
- sliced anise (florence fennel)
- fresh anise green tops.
Top the lettuce with julienne strips of sweet pickled red bell pepper and a few mung bean sprouts.
Set the set up plate aside.
Seared Steak Salad with Dijon Fennel Vinaegrette:
Eye of round steak can be used in this recipe, because it is very lean. Eye of round steak can only be cooked very rare, when it is used for a salad. I chose a small eye of round steak for the salad in the pictures.Top sirloin steak is another choice for rare beef in this recipe. If you prefer a temperature of medium to well done, then use a more tender cut of beef. Tri-tip, strip sirloin or chuck mock tenderloin would be better for any temperature above rare.
Season a petit 5 to 6 ounce steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
Heat a saute pan over medium/medium high heat.
Add 1 tiny splash of vegetable oil.
Sear the steak on both sides, till it is cooked rare.
Cut the steak into long thin slices.
Fan the steak slices outward from center on the ungarnished 1/4 of the mound of salad on the plate.
Spoon the dressing around the edges of the sliced steak and over the vegetables and lettuce.
This is a very nice light lunch or dinner salad! Eye of round is great when it is cooked rare and it is "tough as nails" when it is over cooked. Eye of round has no fat or gristle. Eye of round has a rich beef flavor when served rare or raw. It is the choice cut of beef for Italian carpaccio, because it has a better beef flavor than beef tenderloin when it is served raw. The Dijon Fennel Vinaegrette dressing is so nice with beef! This salad is delicious! ... Shawna