Boiled Dressing

Preparation info

  • Yields approximately

    1½ cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bill Neal's Southern Cooking

Bill Neal's Southern Cooking

By Bill Neal

Published 1985

  • About

Had the English settlers established the olive tree, as they tried, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the story of salad in the South would have been a lot different. Since the region had essentially no vegetable oils before the late nineteenth century, vinaigrettes and mayonnaises were confined to the tables of the very rich who could afford imported olive oil. Boiled dressing was the ingenious solution for the rest of the people. (Mayonnaise was once so exotic that Eudora Welty wrote of its coming to Jackson, Mississippi.) The ability of an egg yolk to absorb fat, as in mayonnaise, is still recognized, but now butter and cream make the sauce unctuous. The astute cook will notice that boiled dressing is, in fact, a member of the hollandaise family, and that it actually is not boiled. This sauce has traditionally bound the many composed salads of the South: cabbage, potato, bean, chicken—the list is as long as the grocery list.