Michael Rossi, executive chef at The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon in Anaheim, recently won a Golden Foodie Award for the best steak in Orange County. His oh-so-tender filet mignons sit atop purees of butternut squash and are flavor-spiked with sun-dried cherries, braised cipolline onions and black truffles.
Part of Rossi’s training and work experience took place in Italy, but he masters New World dishes with the same finesse as those with European roots.
One example is his Caesar Salad, a not-too-difficult approach in which he uses a blender to whip up the dressing.
The leaves remain whole and he uses his impeccably clean hands to gently rotate the greens with the dressing rather than chopping and tossing with tongs.
It looks prettier, but more than that, the leaves stay crisp and un-bruised.
The Ranch’s Caesar Salad
Yield: 4 servings
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 white anchovy, minced
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon, see cook’s notes
4 shakes Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided use
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Sonoma Dry Jack cheese, plus more for optional garnish, see cook’s notes
1 1/2 cups blended oil (80 percent canola oil combined with 20 percent extra-virgin olive oil), divided use
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Minced zest of 1 lemon
Green baby romaine and red (or purple) baby romaine, or Little Gems Lettuces
Cook’s notes: Sonoma Dry Jack cheese is made much like fresh Monterey Jack, but is further aged, often between 7 and 10 months. It is firm with a nutty sweet taste. If you prefer, substitute Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino. Remove the zest of the lemon before squeezing out the juice. Little Gems lettuce is a variety that is small and compact; it is crisp like romaine, but sweet like butter lettuce.
1. To make the dressing: Add egg yolks, garlic, anchovy, vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce, Dijon mustard, and half the kosher salt to a blender and process for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth. Add about 1 tablespoon blended oil and pulse to blend.
2. With the blender motor running on slow speed, pour the blended oil in a thin steam into the blender so that the dressing to emulsifies; with motor running, pour in extra-virgin olive oil to add richness to the dressing.
3. Stir in the Sonoma Dry Jack cheese, remaining kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon zest; set aside. (Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it right away.)
4. Add whole leaves of baby romaine lettuce into a large bowl; place enough dressing to generously coat the leaves off to the side of the bowl. You can toss in a conventional way, but Chef Rossi uses his impeccably clean hand to rotate the leaves through the dressing so they were coated to perfection and weren’t bruised. If desired, garnish with additional Sonoma Dry Jack cheese and/or croutons. Serve immediately.
Source: Michael Rossi, executive chef The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon, Anaheim
The Ranch Restaurant and Saloon, 1025 East Ball Road, Anaheim, 714-687-6336
Sonoma Dry Jack cheese
…. A Quick Tip from Melissa’s Produce ….
Mache is a delectable spoon-shaped lettuce that has a subtle nutty flavor.
Mache’s bright leaves cluster in small, loose heads.
Sometimes it is labeled “lamb’s lettuce,” a name acquired due to the leaf’s resemblance to the shape of a lamb’s tongue.
In this delicious salad, the mache serves as a bright green backdrop for a baby heirloom tomato concoction dressed with a hot bacon dressing. Irresistible.
Mache and Baby Heirloom Tomato Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
6 ounces sliced bacon (about 6 slices)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups assorted baby heirloom tomatoes, halved top to bottom
3 cups chilled mache
1. Cook bacon in a large deep skillet on medium heat until crisp. Using tongs transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. Remove skillet from heat and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat. Add water and vinegar to skillet and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper.
2. Place tomatoes in a bowl. Pour dressing on top and gently toss. Crumble bacon and add to mixture; gently toss. Place mache on a platter. Spoon tomato mixture on top and serve immediately.