Memories are Swell...
But When It Comes to Food, The Real Thing is Better
By Tobye S. Stein
If you grew up in the Detroit area as I did, there were certain foods and beverages that were in nearly every home, including mine. We drank Faygo pop and Vernors Ginger Ale (it’s “deliciously different”) and we ate Sanders Hot Fudge sundaes, Velvet Peanut Butter, and in my home Krun-Chee Potato Chips because Grandma, Sarah Eskow, worked at Krun-Chee on Livernois in Detroit. Beyond these tasty yet unhealthy items was the iconic Maurice Salad, found only at Hudson’s department stores.
The Maurice Salad was more famous for its dressing than anything else. Today’s foodies would likely exclaim that the dressing is “umami.” It’s a little sweet, a little savory, it’s a unique taste that is very hard to duplicate. From time to time, someone posts a recipe for the salad including the dressing, so I recently did my best to recreate it so I could add something new to our pandemic repertoire.
I’m not what one would call a salad person, I’m more of a soup person, but my husband Neal loves salad and over the years, at least since I returned to the Detroit area, I’ve become fond of Hudson’s Maurice Salad as well.
The basic ingredients for this salad are Iceberg lettuce, ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, gherkins, and green olives. I’m not fond of ham or Swiss cheese so I made some substitutions. For the second time since the pandemic began, we had corned beef in the house, and since we were out of Swiss and Jarlsberg cheese, I substituted Havarti cheese. The truth is, it almost doesn’t matter what goes in the bowl other than the dressing.
The dressing is mayonnaise-based. We’re really more of a Miracle Whip than a mayo household, but I purchased a small jar of light mayonnaise. To make the dressing, you need the following:
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. onion juice
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 hard cooked egg, diced
salt to taste
I made the full recipe for the dressing because I almost always follow a recipe the first time. But I could not find onion juice, and while I knew that I could pulverize an onion in my food processor or Vitamix Blender, I wasn’t sure how critical it would be to the dressing. Since the dressing tasted very close to the original when it was blended together without the onion juice, I think it was a reasonable decision. Next time, if my search for onion juice is fruitless, I’ll crush the heck out of an onion.
I served the dressing on the side so we could each use as much or as little as we liked on our salads. In more recent years, the restaurant at the department store formerly known as Hudson’s, now Macy’s, has been serving it that way for years. Actually, when Marshall Field’s acquired the Hudson’s department stores and restaurants, they added chopped egg on top of the salad. Chef’s choice. I stayed with the original, no chopped egg on top of the salad.
The salad serves 6-8 people and includes the following ingredients:
14 oz. ham, cut into strips
14 oz. cooked turkey breast, cut into strips
14 oz. Swiss cheese, cut into strips
1/2 c. slivered, sweet gherkin pickles
1 head Iceberg lettuce, shredded
12-16 pimento-stuffed green olives
Combine the first 6 dressing ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add remaining dressing ingredients and mix well. Combine the ham, turkey, cheese and pickles together in a large bowl. Toss together with the dressing. Divide the lettuce among plates, top with salad and garnish each plate with 2 green olives stuffed with pimentos.
Since there are only two of us. I used about a half head of Iceberg lettuce and what I thought was a reasonable amount of sliced turkey, 4-5 slices, corned beef about the same, and 2 slices of cheese. I cut the amount of gherkins in half as well. But remember: the salad ingredients aren’t nearly as critical as the dressing.
Neal and I each give the salad and the dressing a thumbs up. So if you’re a former Detroiter trying to recreate a little bit of the Motor City, go for it. Even if you’re not, try it, you’ll like it.
Tobye S. Stein retired as Chief Human Resources Officer from a California-based financial services organization. She once landed a job by replying to the age old question, “Why should I hire you instead of the other two candidates” by simply stating “I’m funnier than most people.” It worked.