Vinaigrettes Switch Courses, Going Savory and Sweet

CHEFS around the country are shaking up preconceived ideas of what vinaigrettes are and how they can be used. Tom Colicchio has taken to braising fish in vinaigrette. Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se anoints pan-roasted duck with an emulsion of olive oil and 50-year-old sherry vinegar. Michael Moorhouse, the pastry chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is pouring warm orange vinaigrette on figs.

Chefs rely on vinaigrettes because today’s carb-, calorie- and fat-obsessed customers demand “lightness” without necessarily knowing what it means.

“Because of all the health concerns, many people are ordering their sauces on the side, so vinaigrettes will likely become the way I’m going to finish my dishes,” Gray Kunz of Café Gray said.

But there’s more to it than health. Diners also want food with more resonance, and chefs have responded by cranking the acidity higher.

“Using vinaigrettes to emulsify sauces adds sparkle to my food,” said Dan Barber, executive chef of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, who whisks vinaigrettes, instead of butter or cream, into his hot stocks to thicken them. “They add vibrancy and clarity.”

New York Times