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Balsamic Vinegar

26 November 2009 4,567 views Add a Comment

Italy is the home of the greatest of vinegars: balsamic. Authentic balsamic vinegar is thick and sweet, the color of mahogany. The real stuff—the only kind that can legally be labeled aceto balsamico tradizionale—is made from Trebbiano wine grapes, although only the juice is used, not wine as is often thought.

balsamic-vinegar

The juice is placed in wooden casks, along with a small amount of old, strong vinegar. It is aged for 10 to 50 years. Some, aged for 100 years, is as costly as vintage wine. During the aging process, the vinegar can be moved from one wooden cask to another. Each cask is made of a different kind of wood, such as acacia, ash, cherry, chestnut, mulberry or oak—and wood is the only seasoning allowed. As with all of cooking, taste rules all and the competition for the best balsamic vinegar is steep.

Every June, hundreds of balsamic makers compete in a contest in Spilamberto, Italy, located along the Po River, to select the 12 best vinegars of the year.

This is a simple Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe from Emeril Lagasse, famed New Orleans chef. He closed his Atlanta restaurant in 2008, but I recommend trying his famed restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, NOLA.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Photo: Food Network

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (optional*)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Salad

  • Mesclun salad mix or favorite greens, for accompaniment
  • Assortment of salad ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes, chopped carrots, sliced red onion, chopped celery, diced cucumbers, walnuts
  • Blue cheese, for garnish

Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and desired salad ingredients, top with blue cheese and serve immediately.

If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisk or shake again before use.

*If using a good quality balsamic vinegar you should not need the sugar, but if using a lesser quality you might want the sugar to round out the dressing.

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Submitted by: BuHi

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