Hugh Garvey

This classic steakhouse salad gets a flavor upgrade on the grill—Dad won’t know what hit him

Hugh Garvey  – June 12, 2019

The wedge salad is an anti-salad, up there with charcuterie-filled butcher’s salads and mayo-heavy tuna salad. Loaded with salty, savory things that undo its vegetable virtue—blue cheese dressing enriched with mayo and sour cream, a full pound of bacon—it is a crunchy, tangy, salty, funky thing that is not unlike the steaks it’s often served alongside in its flavor profile and fat content. And while the wedge salad is associated with steakhouse dining, it’s easy to make at home and quite delicious. Better yet, you can improve on it using an unlikely tool: the grill. When the crunchy, opulently sweet, and bland iceberg lettuce is cooked over a flame, it becomes a transcendent dish.

There are two somewhat annoying things about this recipe that you need to face, but are easily solved:

First, you’ll have way too much blue cheese and buttermilk leftover.

Solution: Make a big jar of blue cheese buttermilk dressing and eat it on everything the rest of the week (#SorryNotSorry).

Second: the bacon grease. The cooking of bacon is never not messy.

Solution: Cook the bacon in a big pan on your grill while you grill the iceberg. No backsplash or floor or counters to get greasy. Bonus: you’re that much closer to the trash cans outside, thus will be less inclined to pour the grease down the drain and clog up your plumbing (take it from someone who knows).

You will find many recipes for wedge salad out there, but I went with an easy and reliable version from our archives and modified it to my liking. It’s a tried and true recipe from the old-school San Francisco steakhouse Alfred’s that I recommend modifying as such:

1. Cook the Bacon on the Grill

Heat your grill to medium and place a large cast-iron or other heavy pan on the grates. Add the bacon and cook until just crisp.

2. Grill the Lettuce

After quartering the head of iceberg lettuce, I cooked it for about 3 minutes on each flat side over medium heat. You want to get those toasty, smoky grill marks, but avoid a wilted and overly warmed-up head of lettuce. You still want it crisp in the middle.

3. Top With Cherry Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes in California are getting pretty sweet at this point in the season, but they also add a nice subtle acidity and only require slicing them in half. I also added tomatoes as a node to my favorite restaurant version of a wedge, dubbed the “Molly Salad,” at Taylor’s Steakhouse in L.A.

4. Skip the Vinaigrette

The blue cheese buttermilk dressing was enough for me! (but I’m sure another layer of tanginess would be awesome if you’ve got the time).

While other men might hope for holiday parity in the form of breakfast in bed made for them this Father’s Day, I’m going to flip the script and make my family a salad. I know I’m going to enjoy it.

Apply the above steps to this recipe:  Classic Wedge Salad