In the summer, my girlfriends and I are fairly regular customers at Flatbush Farm and Bar(n). They have great cocktails (I recommend The Garden Snake and also the Sidecar). They have Lem (an awesome bartender and all around great fella). Most importantly (to me), they have really good food. My girlfriends and I do not actually make enough money at our summer job, to support this habit, but it has proven a tough one to break. At the beginning of every summer, we say to each other…”Okay, this summer, we can’t spend so much money at Farm”…but it never works out. I did manage to spend a bit less on cocktails this summer, but my no-eating-out resolve was weakened by the fact that Farm offered the most delicious salad ever on their menu this summer. It was half a head of romaine that had been charred on a grill, topped with a delicious buttermilk dressing, pecorino, crispy fried shallots and parsnips and crumbled crostini. I don’t eat wheat, so I ate the salad without the crostini, but it was still amazing. It was somehow as satisfying as eating a grilled steak.
When my summer job ended I found that I was still craving this salad, so I decided that I needed to make it at home.I tried charring romaine on my gas stove, which did not produce the same effect at all. I added the smoked salt (a gift from my brother-in-law) to my buttermilk dressing and it gave the salad right nice smokey flavour. This might be the best salad dressing I have ever made.
I also do not deep fry things at home, so those lovely sweet, crisp shallots and parsnips had to be replaced by other crispy toppings like radishes, bacon and gluten-free bread crumbs fried in a bit of butter with a minced clove of garlic.
It is not the same salad, but it is satisfying my craving. If you live in NYC, I encourage you to go to FARM and order the Charred Romaine. I went there last night and it’s still on the menu (but they have replaced they crispy shallot with pickled onions). They do change things up seasonally so it won’t be there forever.
SMOKEY BUTTERMILK DRESSING
(makes enough for 4 salads)
- 1 egg yolk (this will be raw, so use fresh, organic eggs)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (regular salt is fine too!)
- the juice of half a lemon (seeds strained out)
- mild oil (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 bunch snipped chives
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the egg yolk with the smoked salt and lemon juice in a blender or jar (if using an immersion blender). Whir them together until combined.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle the mild oil into the egg yolk. When a thin mayonnaise forms, stop adding oil.
- Stir in the buttermilk, chives and lots of black pepper.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. I always end up adding more chives.
CRISPY ROMAINE SALD
Serve 1/2 of a head of romaine to each person. You can chop it up, or just slice the romaine in half lengthwise. Drizzle it with a generous amount of smokey buttermilk dressing and top it with a combination of any of the crispy toppings listed below.
- gluten-free bread crumbs, fried in a bit of butter with a clove of minced garlic
- deep-fried shallots
- deep-fried parsnips
- pickled red onion ((soak 1/2 of a sliced red onion in 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 1 Tablespoon salt and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar for at least one hour)
- crumbled fried bacon
- crumbled crostini
- fresh sliced radishes
- diced seeded cucumber
- diced celery
- diced fennel
- grated pecorino