This simple yet versatile dressing adds a rich taste of culture to anything it touches.
What is it?
A rich, creamy dressing made from buttermilk, the whey left after churning cream into butter. Imagine Caesar salad dressing, only better.
Where is it?
At Jamie's Italian in the central business district, chef David Clarke turns out dozens of Jamie's ''humble'' green salads with mint and lemon buttermilk dressing daily. American-born chef Gregory Llewellyn at Hartsyard serves crispy pig's tails with buttermilk dressing, pickles and hot sauce, while at Sixpenny in Stanmore, the degustation menu stars roast sweet potato with nettles, fish roe and buttermilk whey sauce. ''We poach many of our vegetables in buttermilk'' co-chef James Parry says, ''and reduce the resulting whey until the natural sugars caramelise''.
Why do I care?
Because buttermilk is low in fat and good for the digestion. And because it's great drizzled over beef carpaccio, Caesar salad, barbecued chicken and lamb, and beautiful salads built around Christmas ham and turkey leftovers.
Can I do it at home?
Yes. Commercial buttermilk, a cultured skim milk product, is available from supermarkets, and natural buttermilk is available from Pepe Saya (pepesaya.com.au).
Iceberg wedges with blue cheese and buttermilk dressing
6 thin slices pancetta
1 tbsp quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 iceberg lettuce, chilled
150g soft blue cheese, e.g. roquefort, gorgonzola
2 tbsp chives, roughly snipped
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 190C. Arrange pancetta on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes until crisp, then roughly crumble.
2. To make the dressing, whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise and vinegar with the mustard, garlic and sea salt, and refrigerate until needed. Cut the lettuce in half crosswise, then cut each half into three or four wedges, depending on size. Arrange on a serving plate. Crumble most of the blue cheese over the top and spoon over the dressing. Scatter with remaining blue cheese, chives, cracked pepper and crumbled pancetta, and serve.
Jamie's Italian, 107 Pitt Street, city, 8240 9000; Sixpenny, 83 Percival Road, Stanmore, 9572 6666; Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road, Newtown, 8068 1473; Pepe Saya buttermilk is available at Eveleigh Markets, Bondi Farmers Market, Warwick Farm Farmers' Markets and Marrickville Organic Food Market or phone Pepe Saya 9559 4449 for details.
TRENDING Artisan nougat. The best nougat is soft, chewy and freshly made - like the white chocolate, cranberry and pistachio from Nougat Royale (0410 573 450). At Bondi Farmers Market (9315 7011), or The Deli, 65 Macleay Street, Potts Point (9358 1266).