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Steakhouse Wedge Salad with Blackened Flatiron ‘Croutons’

steakhouse wedge salad

There is something about a simple wedge salad that has always appealed to me. When I was growing up we referred to this type of salad as the Steakhouse Wedge Salad, or sometimes just Steakhouse Salad. I’m guessing my parents first encountered it at a steakhouse. So the ‘steakhouse’ part of its name made sense to me. However, the term ‘wedge’ confused me some. My mom served this salad in inch-thick discs as opposed to the triangular wedges I prefer today.

Whether it’s a round disc or a triangular wedge the Steakhouse Wedge Salad is essentially not much more than an iceberg lettuce salad topped with creamy blue cheese or ranch-style dressing and a few basic accoutrements (onion, radish, tomato, croutons and often bacon). There’s nothing fancy about it. In fact from the 1950s well into the 1970s this salad was ubiquitous. Mostly because there weren’t a lot of other varieties of lettuce available outside the San Joaquin Valley. Modern advances changed that fact. Soon a backlash against the once popular Steakhouse Wedge Salad began to spread across the continent. By the late 1980s the iceberg revulsion was in full swing. You could no longer admit to being a fan of the lowly Steakhouse Wedge Salad. It was dead to the likes of you and me.

Fortunately for us other types of lettuce began to come into fashion. Baby field greens made their first appearances. What a revelation they were. So tiny. So delicate. Each leaf like a small gift. With their discovery the mesclun salad was born and it stormed our plates. It made all the other types of lettuce seem brutish.

Like any self-respecting foodie I’ll admit I embraced the mesclun salad. Who among us didn’t? But I remained a closeted iceberg lettuce fan. It’s hard to beat a fat chunk of crunchy iceberg lettuce tucked between the buns of a really juicy burger. In fact I credit burgers for helping me look more clearly at those trendy but emaciated limp little lettuce leaves and think– Is that all there is? Because when it comes to beef– especially steak– nothing beats iceberg lettuce.

Modern Day Steakhouse Wedge Salad

And so we come full circle. The Steakhouse Wedge Salad has made a serious comeback. Exciting versions featuring radicchio and house-cured charcuterie are finding their way back onto the menus of restaurants everywhere. But there’s something about the iceberg original that continues to hold my attention. So today I pay homage to the original, with one small twist. In a nod to my parents and the steakhouses of their youth, I’m serving my salad with steak. Not on the side or in a separate course. My Steakhouse Wedge Salad has blackened chunks of spiced up flatiron steak standing in for traditional ‘croutons’. GREG

steakhouse wedge salad

Classic Wedge Salad with Blackened Flatiron ‘Croutons’ and Blue Cheese

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Published
classic wedge salad

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 small shallot (minced)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (or more as needed)
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or more as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese (divided)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 flat iron steak (about 2 plus pounds) marinated if you like
  • ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onions
  • ½ cup thinly sliced radish
  • ¼ cup minced chives

Directions

Make the spice mixture: Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a bowl until evenly mixed. Can be made up to 1 week in advance. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Make the dressing: Whisk shallot, sour cream, buttermilk, and white wine vinegar in a small bowl; fold in ½ cup crumbled blue cheese. Adjust consistency with more sour cream or buttermilk, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store covered and chilled.

Blacken the steak: Cut the steak into 1‑inch cubes. Set aside at room temperature.

Place the spice mixture in a shallow bowl. Coat the cubes of steak in the mixture. Set aside in a single layer.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and let it get quite hot, almost smoking. Once the oil in the pan is hot (it should shimmer) add a few chunks of steak to the pan. Do not crowd them, work in batches. Quickly blacken the meat on all sides, turning often. Cook each one about 2 minutes total for medium rare. Move them to a paper towel lined plate to drain as they finish. Continue cooking the meat in batches until it is all blackened. You will need to refresh the oil once or twice during the process. Let it become hot again before continuing.

Assemble the salad: Peel a few of the outer layers away from the head of iceberg lettuce. You should be left with a tight, compact ball about 7‑inches in diameter. Locate the stem end and cut through it to form 4 equal-sized wedges. Place each wedge on a serving plate with several blackened flatiron ‘croutons’ scattered around each wedge. Divide the tomatoes, onions and radishes between each plate; drizzle the salads with a few tablespoons dressing. Garnish with remaining blue cheese and chives. Season with more black pepper if you like.