a “manly man” salad
Isn’t it strange how sometimes you go out for dinner and you are drawn to order the same thing at one restaurant and then another. Recently, that item for me has been candied pecans. I use candied pecans often at home as well, but there is always something a little different about the ones I get while eating out. I finally asked a chef friend, what the difference was. He informed me that restaurants often first candy the nuts and then fry them. That makes sense, since I often wondered how their pecans were so much more “toasted” than mine. If you would rather not fry the nuts, just go to this previous post for candied almonds, and substitute pecans for the almonds.
You may be able to find balsamic glaze at the grocery store, I know that Trader Joe’s carried it at one time, not sure if they still do, but it is easy to make at home and easy to store extra for use again later. I served this salad to three men last night, and in their honor, since they are “manly men”, this is a now referred to as a “manly man” salad!
Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing and Balsamic Glaze
Restaurant-Style Candied Pecans
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons bottled horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
3 small filet mignon steaks, each about 2-inches thick (beef tenderloin)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
12 large cremini mushrooms, ends trimmed and then sliced
8 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
Pecans: Using a medium heavy pot, bring water and sugar to a boil over high-heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add pecans and lower heat to a simmer, cook about 8 minutes. Drain over a bowl. Set aside the sugar liquid in the bowl.
Wipe out the pan until dry, add oil and heat until oil is very hot, to approximately 375 degrees. Fry the nuts for 1 minute, drain over another bowl.
Place strainer with nuts over the pan the oil was in and pour the reserved sugar liquid over the nuts. Discard both the hot oil and the sugar liquid when they are cool.
Turn nuts out onto either a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat and cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow nuts to harden and crisp.
Balsamic Glaze: Pour the balsamic vinegar and sugar into a saucepan. Heat, stirring with a heat-resistant rubber spatula constantly for about 10 to 12 minutes until the sauce reduces by about half and coats the spatula. Do not boil, as the sugar will burn. Cool and store any extra glaze in a covered container.
Dressing: In a glass bowl, whisk together the vinegar, horseradish, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowing whisk in the olive oil. Whisk in the sour cream, set aside.
Salad: Preheat a grill to high-heat. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper and grill until desired doneness, about 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from grill and place on cutting board, allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices.
Divide the salad greens between four dinner plates, top with the tomatoes and mushrooms, toss each salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing. Place the steak slices on the salad and top with crumbled Gorgonzola, sprinkle with pecans and drizzle with balsamic glaze.