Max’s Wedge Salad

Copyright (2021) from The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining and Legendary Recipes from the Restaurant That Made New York

Serves 4
1 head bibb lettuce
1 head radicchio
1 head endive, preferably Belgian 
8 ounces bacon
¾ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup buttermilk 
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Himalayan salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper
to taste
2 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes

The Delmonico Way: Oscar was adamant about serving his wedge salad on chilled plates. Even the forks
and knives served with this salad should be chilled in the refrigerator for twenty minutes or so.
My grandfather, Oscar, created the ultimate power lunch starter—a wedge salad of iceberg lettuce,
thickly cut tomatoes, and bacon served with blue cheese dressing. This was no long-planned dish:
Lettuce and tomatoes were simply the ingredients available one day when Oscar drove to a local farm to
buy produce. Oscar frequented markets and farms in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Bridgeport,
Connecticut, every morning by five a.m. to buy fresh produce, fish, and meat, just as Lorenzo Delmonico
had done back in the nineteenth century. In the 1950s, Oscar was an early adopter of refrigerated
vehicles. He custom-built refrigeration in his Ford Courier and eventually in a fleet of other vehicles so
that the meats and produce maintained optimal freshness. After Oscar’s passing, his son, Mario,
continued the tradition of shopping for food. Wedge salad was introduced on Delmonico’s menus in the
1930s as hearts of lettuce salad and maintained its popularity through the wartime food shortages of
the 1940s. By 1955, when it was renamed “Oscar’s wedge,” the salad was a Delmonico’s mainstay. This
is my version of my grandfather’s most famous invention. To prepare it properly you must use beefsteak
or heirloom tomatoes, in season—never cherry tomatoes.

Cut the bibb, radicchio, and endive heads through the stem ends into 4 quarters each, leaving the cores
intact. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the lettuce wedges. Massage them with your hands to

clean thoroughly. Drain then wrap in paper towels to dry completely. Place the wrapped lettuce in
plastic bags and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours (and up to 8 hours).

Line a plate with paper towels and place it near the stove. Cut the bacon into long strips about 1/4 inch
wide. Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the bacon until crisp on one side, about 3 to
4 minutes, then flip the slices over and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Remove the
bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towels. When the bacon has cooled to
room temperature, crumble it into small bits.

Combine the mayonnaise, 1/2 cup blue cheese, buttermilk, and vinegar in a blender and pulse a few
times to combine, but not puree completely. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the dressing to a
serving pitcher and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, slice each tomato into 2 thick slices. Place a dollop of dressing in the center of
each of 4 chilled plates. Place one tomato slice in the center of each plate. Remove the lettuce, endive,
and radicchio from the refrigerator. Cut the cores from the lettuce wedges, leaving the leaves of the
wedges intact; discard the cores. Divide the lettuce wedges equally between the 4 plates. Drizzle the
blue cheese dressing over the greens. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup blue cheese and season with a
little more pepper. Sprinkle on the bacon. Serve the dressing on the side.