~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~
Who was Maurice? Most people will tell you he was the chef or a chef at J.L. Hudson's (a famous Detroit department store that later became Marshall Field's), because it is, more-likely-than-not: true. Sadly however, there's no written record of a chef named Maurice or which in-store restaurant his salad debuted in. As a culinary history buff, I hate it when details like that fade into obscurity -- I'm still lamenting taking a pair of scissors to their classy-looking credit card when Macy's took over and issued me a new card with their logo. Great memorabilia lost. Sigh.
That said, there's no disputing that the Maurice chef salad (which could have been named for a customer, a relative, a salesperson, etc.) was the #1 selling menu item in the history of all the Field's Michigan restaurants. The dressing, a lemony, onion-juice-laced mayo concoction containing tiny bits of hard-cooked egg was, and is, amazing.
Luckily, the recipe for the Maurice salad, the Maurice dressing, and, many of their famous recipes are documented in The Marshall Field's Cookbook. I bought my copy, a first printing, in 2006 (there are used copies available on the internet). I fell in love with it immediately, especially the history contained in the first twenty-one pages. Here's my favorite excerpt:
the bridal registry
the women's restroom
fixed, guaranteed pricing
satisfaction guaranteed returns policy
fully-realized scenes in window displays
the bargain basement
a European buying office
Maurice Salad is nicely-composed, partially-tossed & plated:
Besides the amazing dressing, and trust me, this salad is ALL about the dressing, the thing I like best about this salad is: the dressed, julienned, freshly-roasted ham and turkey, Swiss cheese and sliced sweet pickles are placed atop a bed of crisp, shredded, undressed iceberg lettuce. I have taken to serving many of my chef-type salads in this fashion because I'm never at risk of the lettuce getting even the slightest bit soggy. Not in their salad recipe (on page 33 of their cookbook), I added a sliced, hard-cooked egg to each portion because I like it, and, because it complements the egg in the dressing so well. One item noticeably absent from their recipe, and added by me because it deserves mention: The Maurice salad was always accompanied by freshly-baked, warm French bread slices and sweet cream butter -- no croutons please.
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons bottled onion juice*
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dry English mustard
freshly-ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste (Note: I use 10-15 coarse grinds of salt and 20-25 coarse grinds of pepper.)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely-chopped parsley
1 hard-cooked egg, finely-diced
*A bit about about bottled onion juice: If you have a juicer, like any other fruit or vegetable, it's easy to extract juice from an onion, and, for centuries, onions and their juice have been used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. All that aside (I don't use enough of onion juice to juice onions), I've been buying it for years, and, like Worcestershire sauce, when you are looking to amp the flavor up in many a dish or beverage, it's a great "secret" ingredient to have on-hand in your pantry. Trust me, it's available everywhere but not always easy to locate -- sometimes it's in the aisle with salad dressings, sometimes it's in the juice aisle, and, sometimes its tucked in with the spices. Most times, it's just easier to ask a clerk, "where do you keep the onion juice!"
~Step 1. In a small bowl place vinegar, lemon juice, onion juice, sugar, Dijon and dry mustards. Whisk until sugar and dry mustard are completely dissolved. Whisk in the mayonnaise and season, to taste with freshly-ground sea salt and black pepper (I use a peppercorn blend).
Tip from Mel: Even when I am making egg salad, I chop the white and yolk separately. It's easier to control the texture of them both, and, it makes for a prettier presentation too.
~ Step 3. Transfer to a 2-cup size food storage container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for several hours, overnight and up to three days. Prep the ingredients for the salad as directed below.
Note: A correctly prepared Maurice salad, without exception, contains julienned, not diced, ingredients and iceberg lettuce (no substitutions).
Maurice Salad = julienne not dice & iceberg without exception!
1 pound julienned ham, preferably not deli-style luncheon meat (Read my Cook's Note at the end of this post.)
1 pound julienned turkey breast, preferably not deli-style luncheon meat (Read my Cook's Note at the end of this post.)
1 pound julienned Swiss cheese
1/2 cup slivered sweet gherkin pickles
1 large head iceberg lettuce, cored and cut into 6 wedges, each wedge sliced into thin 1/4"-1/2" chiffonade (thin strips or ribbons)
6 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges, 1 egg per portion, for garnish (optional)
12-24 pimento-stuffed green olives, 2-4 per portion, for garnish
freshly-baked, French baguette slices and sweet cream butter, for accompaniment
~ Step 1. Julienne the ham, turkey and Swiss cheese. My julienne strips are a about 1/4" thick and 2 1/2"-3" long. Yes, julienne is a bit (not a lot) of extra effort, but, the Maurice salad was never diced, so, stick to the recipe or be prepared to feel guilty. Slice the gherkins into the thinnest slivers you can. Place each ingredient in a large, shallow bowl as you work. Add 3/4 cup of the dressing and gently toss until ingredients are lightly coated.
~ Step 4. Make a bed of two generous cups of shredded iceberg lettuce (again, stick to the recipe, it's gotta be iceberg for it to be a Maurice salad) on each of 6 plates. Neatly portion and mound dressed ingredients in the center of each lettuce bed and garnish with olives and optional egg wedges. Serve with additional dressing to the side, warm French bread and butter.
In the event you've never sat down to a Maurice salad...
Special Equipment List: whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; large, shallow salad bowl and salad servers
Cook's Note: I roast a turkey breast almost every week. I do it for the sole purpose of making sandwiches and salads -- two of my favorite things. You can find my simple (much easier that roasting the entire bird) recipe, ~ Mel's Perfectly-Roasted Rosemary Turkey Breast ~ by clicking into Categories 2, 3, 18, 19 or 20.
As for the ham, I usually only have baked ham around the holidays (Christmas and Easter). That said, I'm never without a ham steak in my freezer. It thaws in about 30 minutes and cooks up in a skillet with a bit of butter in 5-6 minutes.
Once cooled and chilled overnight, both the turkey breast and the ham steak are ready to trim, slice and use as directed in all sorts of sandwich and salad recipes.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)