Broccoli salad with hot bacon dressing


Oh, bacon. There’s a reason that my vegetarian friends refer to you as “The Gateway Meat.”  A little bacon fat provides a deep, dark smokey flavor in this dressing, which is nicely counterbalanced by the light, sweet flavor of the honey. I suggest using local honey for a lot of reasons, but it is especially nice in this recipe because you can really taste the floral notes in local honey. It adds depth to the flavor.

Blanching the broccoli gives it beautiful color and greatly improves the texture. I use a slotted spoon and a mixing bowl full of ice cubes with a little water poured in. You cook it for a couple of minutes, then immediately stop the cooking process by throwing it into an ice bath. The idea is to keep the crispness of the raw vegetable but to eliminate the toughness.

Serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. local honey
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons toasted almonds, slivered or chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Blanch the broccoli. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add broccoli, cook for 2 minutes, then pull out the broccoli and immediately plunge it into an ice bath. Dry completely and allow it to return to room temperature.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the bacon drippings over low heat. Whisk in the vinegar, honey, mustard, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding additional honey, salt and pepper as needed
  3. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, almonds and cranberries with about half the dressing. Gradually add more dressing until the broccoli is lightly coated – you don’t want the vegetables to be swimming in dressing.
  4. Garnish with additional almonds, if desired. Serve warm.
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