If you’re looking for the “Danko Special” Recipe, it’s here.
This is the House Dressing of the Copper Hills Motel in Miami, Arizona
My Dad got his house dressing from Navarre’s in Phoenix. It became Danko’s Salad Dressing in Globe-Miami, and was quite famous in the area. This popularity was carried up and down Highway 60 by the travelers that stopped at his Best Western Restaurant and Hotel over the 35 years from the time my Dad built it, until he sold it in 1990. The dressing disappeared after this; Navarre’s was long gone by then and the new owners changed the entire menu.
This salad dressing is Atomic Age stuff. 1950’s/1960’s Steak House Salad Dressing. Red flocked wall paper, dark woods and antique mirrors, with burly middle-aged male waiters. Men with coats and ties, ladies in cocktail dresses, stoles and alligator clutch-purses. Ashtrays on the table. Rumaki appetizers. This is no-BS salad dressing that “Mad Men” ordered, followed by “I’ll have a bourbon and water and the lady will have a Vodka Martini, up”. This dressing has been pretty much a family secret (except I think I’m the only one in the family that’s ever made it besides my Dad, who passed in 2000). I had friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s moms and others ask me for this recipe for years.
The Copper Hills burnt down in early 2001, and they hadn’t served the dressing for 11 years before that. And since just about anyone that knew how to make it is long gone to the four winds, I’m releasing it for general consumption. But.**
**You’re on your honor here — give the Devil (my dad) his due and call it what it is — Danko’s Dressing. Trust me, the guy is a ghost and he will come and get his haunt on up in your house or restaurant; he had a wicked and expensive sense of humor — you’ve been warned.
So here’s the recipe:
Makes 1 gallon.
- 1/2 cup Black Pepper (heavy, coarse grind)
- 2.5 teaspoons Sugar
- 2.5 tablespoons Salt
- 1 1/2+ cups Wine Vinegar (1.6 to be exact, which is 2.5 teaspoons over 1.5 cups)
- 6 1/2 tablespoons Dry Mustard
- 1/2 bottle of Lee & Perrins Worchester Sauce (regular size, not something from Costco)
- 2 Finely minced onions
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown gravy flavoring
- juice of 4 lemons
- 3/4+ cup of finely crushed fresh garlic
- 9 1/2 cups corn oil
This is basically an oil/vinegar emulsion dressing. Start with a really good mixer and put the vinegar, onions, 1/4 of lemon juice and the pepper with the mixer whirling around at a good clip. S-l-o-w-l-y add the oil, drop by drop, bit by bit at first until it starts to emulsify. Remember that the oil must be added extremely sparingly at first until it comes together, then poured in a small but steady stream. As the oil is finished, add the rest of the ingredients, tasting from time to time. Once all the ingredients are together, add more mustard if necessary. Store refrigerated but not too cold, because the whole thing will break the closer to freezing it is. Some persons have used egg yolks but you gotta use it fast if you do and I wouldn’t serve raw eggs in a restaurant setting. Your mileage may vary.
To make sure this thing stays stable when you make it and you don’t waste a gallon of ingredients, you can cut these ingredients down to make a quart or less.
Key points to prevent your dressing from breaking:
- DO NOT add all the vinegar and lemon juice at the beginning, Keep 3/4 of the lemon juice for the end
- DO NOT over-agitate it in the food processor, (which is why traditional chefs favor whisking it by hand)
- DO NOT place it in a fridge that is too cold.
if you are troubled by emulsions and you want to review a good article in getting it right, here’s a link. Have fun, serve it with half Ice Berg, Half Romaine and add some other weeds like endive for a little extra texture. Croutons are mandatory. Serve it with a New York covered in peppercorns, Pittsburgh-style. You’re eating like Don Draper (Mad Men) now, baby.