Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Candied Bacon

July 11, 2011


I just love how the Americans cut a big wedge of iceberg, drench it in blue cheese dressing and then call it a salad. Respect.

I’m rather fond of the poor old iceberg. It doesn’t have any flavour to speak of but as a big ol’ wedge of crunch, no lettuce does it better. So, you take a quarter of the lettuce and drench it; yes, drench it, in a blue cheese and sour cream dressing. Dribble. You’ll need something to offset all that richness and tang though, so why not sprinkle on a handful of sweet ‘n salty pig-candy pieces? Oh yes indeedy. Picture this: kerrrunch down through that wedge; creamy, salty; nuggets of blue cheese sneaking into every layer but then, hang on what’s this? Chewy shards of sticky, streaky candied bacon, that’s what. Salad garnish crack.

Caramelised walnuts would make a lovely alternative to the bacon but I wasn’t allowed to make those because that would have taken up time I could have been using to make more candied bacon.

Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Candied Bacon
(serves 4)

1 iceberg lettuce (try to get a nice round one so your wedges look good)

150g blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
100ml sour cream
100ml natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus extra just in case; I found I wanted a little more)
1 tablespoon chives, snipped with scissors

For the candied bacon

8 rashers streaky bacon
1-2 teaspoons of sugar per bacon rasher, depending on size

First candy the bacon by laying the rashers out on a baking tray and sprinkling the sugar evenly over them. Whack them under a hot grill until crisp and caramelised. Wipe the rashers around in the stick juices that have accumulated in the tray, turn them over and cook the other side. Watch them like a hawk once you’ve turned them as they will caramelise extremely fast. Once cooked, remove and let cool on a wire rack. Don’t let the pieces touch each other as they will stick together.

Crush the garlic with a teeny pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until creamy. Blend the garlic with all the other dressing ingredients together in a bowl. You can do this with a blender if you like but I like my blue cheese dressing quite chunky so I mash it in a bowl to achieve the right consistency; it’s nice to get the odd nugget of cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper if you like; the cheese will already be quite salty. Taste again and add a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Remove any manky outer leaves from your iceberg and quarter it. Wash it. Arrange each wedge on a plate, dollop on the blue cheese dressing. Cut the bacon into pieces and sprinkle over. Serve.

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    Reply Dave July 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Classic. I too like the much maligned iceberg lettuce. Can’t think of many better uses for it than this.

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    Reply Gourmet Chick July 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Had a salad just like this on a recent trip to Las Vegas – as you say respect!

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    Reply Lizzie July 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Would you eat it as you would a slice of cake, with your hands? It looks AWESOME.

    (That candied bacon as a dhal spoon though – yes please.)

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    Reply Helen July 12, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Respect for the salad yo!

    Lizzie – Well, I used a knife and fork but whatever floats yer boat!

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    Reply Nancy July 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Haha, bloody hell. That is a hell of salad. It definitely LOOKS American! (I laughed at the “do you eat it like a cake” comment as well, lol)

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    Reply Catherine July 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    In the US this would be served before your main meal, not alongside it or instead of.

    Reminds me of a cheesy version of French toast (egg bread) with bacon and maple syrup. The bread is the transporter of the syrup and bacon.

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    Reply Su-Lin July 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I like the crunch of iceberg! I don’t much care for blue cheese dressing so would probably substitute something like a ranch dressing. Yum!

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    Reply Kelly July 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    That has got my mouth watering in overdrive!!

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    Reply Anthea July 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    This is frankly NOT an American salad. As somebody who has lived in North America for 12 years and has travelled extensively in both Canada and the US I am forced to say that No-one makes such a thing…who’d be so ignorant to serve a wedge of iceberg with blue cheese dressing on it? Someone who can’t cook would make this.

    Frankly, worse salad I ever had… warm chorizo salad at the Clump Inn nr Southampton, back in England. It had 5-6 thin slices of almost burned chorizo on a huge bowl of iceberg! All I could think was that the person who made the salad couldn’t cook. So, if you think that this wedge of iceberg lettuce with some blue cheese dressing and candied bacon …I have two thoughts: (a) you’ve just been conned and (b) this isn’t an American salad” and if you really think that this is a salad…well, you’re misinformed.

    By using this definition you’ve implied that Americans don’t know how to make salads. This is far from the truth since there are some incredibly delicious salads such as: Cobb Salad, Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, Waldolf Salad, Hot Potato salad, Taco Salad, Wild Rice Cranberry Pecan Salad, Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese, Chef’s Salad, Avocado Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Black Bean Salad, and Classic Carrot Salad for starters.

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    Reply Amy July 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Oh massive yum! This has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. My excuse is that the iceberg lettuce cancels out the dressing and bacon! I know I’m lying to myself 🙁

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    Reply thelittleloaf July 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Love the crunch of iceberg with a creamy dressing – the candied bacon is just the icing on the cake (or wedge…). I think caramelized walnuts would be a great addition too – might just have to add to my version 🙂

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    Reply Lizzie July 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Slightly confused by Anthea’s comment. Anthea – see Smitten Kitchen,, epicurious; all with iceberg wedge blue cheese salads. All American. Not to mention google.

    (Waldorf salad, in my opinion, does nothing to sing the merits of Americans and their salad. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bleugh)

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    Reply neil_estate July 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    @Anthea – oooooooooh *raises handbag*

    I’ve been to America quite a few times and I’ve had something quite similar and in my opinion this recipe looks preposterously delicious.

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    Reply meemalee July 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Haha, my husband and I had one of these in a BBQ house in Chicagoland.


    He’s been obsessed ever since – I must show him this post 🙂

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    Reply Paul July 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I had iceberg served this way in Atlanta, with some of the hottest Buffalo Wings I’ve ever had the misfortune of eating. That said it was in an alledged “british” pub…

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    Reply Chris July 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Anthea: Thanks for the links to American websites you provided in an attempt to prove that this salad wasn’t American. The Bon Appetit site was particularly useful.


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    Reply Tori @eat-tori July 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

    You had me at candied bacon. I think there has to be an enormous rack of ribs that comes directly after eating this. And a very large cold beer on the side.

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    Reply Annie July 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’m so happy to see people jump in and defend the wedge salad! You do see this on menus in the States, mainly in steakhouse-type restaurants. I’ve seen it on a few menus here too – Sophie’s and Byron’s. I love it!

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    Reply Gin and Crumpets July 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Ha, excellent. That’s what I call a salad.

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    Reply Food Urchin July 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    What about a wedge of candied bacon and some slivers of iceberg?

    Just a thought.

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    Reply SuzieF July 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    That’s got america written all over it. Only the americans can muller crisp fresh ingredients with heavy sauces like that and get away with it… (well, ignoring the creeping national BMI crisis of course). Great dollops of blue cheese dressing? Bacon cooked to a crisp? OF COURSE IT IS…. And I lived there for years too. It’s totally delicious, so not sure why someone’s getting so uptight. (Check out David Lebovitz too for futher evidence of provenance)

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    Reply Rachel July 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I’m in Houston right now, and have seen several people eat salads like this, although their’s are obviously way bigger and more calorific! I sniggered when I saw it on a menu and laughed out loud when I saw the first one in real life!

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    Reply Miss Cay July 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Speaking as an American English woman, that definitely qualifies as a salad. Anthea, I think you may have gotten your knickers in a twist love. The Pioneer Woman has an amazing recipe for an iceburg wedge, and I’ve seen numerous examples of this fine food stuff featured on Serious Eats too.

    Helen, this looks amazing. Especially the candied bacon. Phwoarrgh.

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    Reply katiem July 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Tried the fantastic wedge salad this evening and reminds me of my time in the US visiting family and friends. I didn’t have streaky bacon in and had to use smoked garlic and jervaulx blue for the dressing. But it worked out fine. Added a lot of lemon juice too. Yum. Yum. Look forward to reading Food Stories, its fab and wish I had discovered it sooner, thanks so much.

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    Reply Steve Fox July 15, 2011 at 7:16 am

    The iceberg is the only lettuce worth bothering with, in my (occasionally) humble opinion. You can leave all that “sap oozing from fresh stalks” mularkey assigned to lettuces with posh names t’folk who get arsey on internet blogs…

    I am going to make me this beast of a salad, and I am going to listen to “Winter In America” by Gil Scott-Heron whilst I eat it.

    And then I am going to have me one big mutha of a coronary.

    (Should I recover, I’m off to Ladbrokes to wager a fiver on the next REM album being titled Salad Garnish Crack)

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      Reply Melanie August 2, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      I also have found, after all the years of trying the trendier/less well known (well they used to be less well known, years ago when all this started) lettuces and salad greens, that I just plain ole like iceberg lettuce the best. That is, my tastebuds think that iceberg tastes better. Right next to it in preference is Boston/Bibb lettuce. I like Romaine in Caesar salads. I like a bit of red or purplish lettuce-just a bit-in some salads just because it looks nice. Other than that, I’m just not that crazy about the sharper flavored lettuces. I do like spinach in salad (speaking of, I like warm spinach salad, which is pretty much just spinach warmed with some bacon until the bacon is cooked and the spinach is slightly wilted. I think bacon needs to be a separate food group.) I’d turn in my foody card, but at this point I’m not sure that I was ever granted one :d

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    Reply KyBred July 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I beg to differ with Anthea….we eat this salad all the time…served in resturants and in homes. I am a 64yr old American born, Kentucky bred female and I CAN COOK.

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