For a couple of years, I was a private chef for a family in San Francisco, and one of my dishes that one member of the family loved the most was a simple grilled chicken breast, seasoned with herbes de provence and served with a warm honey-dijon vinaigrette.
And the reason I know it was her favorite is that it was what she always requested whenever she had company over for lunch.
It is certainly not my intention to feign modesty over my ability to make a perfectly grilled chicken breast, but I always thought that the best thing about that dish was the vinaigrette. The refreshing tartness of the white balsamic vinegar, the fruity, butteriness of the olive oil, the pungency of the mustard and the sweetness from the honey, combine to produce a superbly balanced blend of flavors. Warmed up, the flavors and aromas explode, and it brings a grilled chicken breast to new heights.
And, of course, it's terrific on a salad. It's similar to the dressing I make for my everyday salad, with the main difference being the mustard.
As with any vinaigrette, it's a good idea to make sure the ingredients are at room temperature before mixing them up, because the colder they are, the more difficult it will be to form an emulsion. So if you're in the habit of keeping your olive oil in the refrigerator, you should stop doing that. If you're doing it because you're concerned about rancidity, you're fine keeping it in a dark cupboard away from your stove.
The same goes for your mustard, by the way. Mustard is highly acidic, and as such does not need to be refrigerated. Of course if you're bound and determined to keep these items in the fridge, at the very least make sure you let them come to room temperature before you start making the dressing.
By the way, you can make your own Dijon-style mustard, which is actually a good use of your time if you've looked at the price tag of a jar of Grey Poupon recently.
- 3/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1/4 cup vinegar (white balsamic or white wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp. mustard (Dijon)
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 pinch of salt (kosher, to taste)
- 1 pinch of pepper (ground white, to taste)
- Let your ingredients come to room temperature if they've been in the fridge.
- Combine the mustard and vinegar in a glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk them together briefly.
- Place the mustard-vinegar mixture along with the oil, honey and seasonings in a blender and mix for about 10 seconds or until fully combined.
- Transfer to a glass bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Give the dressing a good whisk immediately before serving.