Whiskey Grilled Vidalia, Sweet Pepper, and Blue Cheese Salad

No tailgate party is going to be lacking in meats. Balance out the fatty flavors with some bright vegetables, letting the vidalia onions, sweet peppers, and cucumbers hit the grill before your serving dish. By chef EJ Hodgkinson of King + Duke in Atlanta, Ga.—Serves 4-6.

Get More Tailgate-Ready Recipes

Whiskey Gastrique

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups George Dickel whisky (or other Tennessee whiskey)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

Night Before: In small sauce pot, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture has turned golden brown. Remove from heat and pour in whiskey and cider vinegar. (Caution: This sugar mixture will spit and bubble from the introduction of cooler liquid.) Return to heat and cook until the mixture has reduced by half. Remove, add a pinch of salt and a generous pinch of black pepper, and let cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, begin making the whiskey vinaigrette (recipe below). Caution: Whiskey contains alcohol, which can ignite over an open flame.

Whiskey Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup whiskey gastrique (recipe above)
  • ⅔ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2½ cups grapeseed oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

Night Before: In mixing bowl, combine whiskey gastrique, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the grapeseed oil to emulsify (this will give the vinaigrette a smooth and creamy texture). Season with salt and pepper as desired. Seal in an airtight plastic container and store in the refrigerator. Salad (recipe below) should be dressed just prior to serving on game day.


  • 5 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced into
  • ½-inch-thick rings
  • 8 sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • ½ lb. romano beans (flat pole beans—good for grilling!)
  • 2 cucumbers
  • remaining whiskey gastrique
  • 2 raw fennel bulbs, shaved thin; hold in ice water
  • ¼ lb. firm blue cheese (Maytag or Point Reyes work well)
  • 5 sprigs mint, leaves picked, stems discarded
  • 3 sprigs dill, leaves picked, stems discarded
  • olive oil (for grilling)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Night Before: Preheat grill to its highest temperature. If grilling over charcoal/wood, develop full coal bed prior to cooking and bring grill surface as close to coals as possible. Season the onions, peppers, romano beans, and cucumbers aggressively with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Coat the Vidalia onions with the remaining whiskey gastrique and grill vegetables until charred significantly. Remove from grill and let cool. Slice the grilled cucumbers and peppers into ½-inch-thick rings. Once cool, combine with raw shaved fennel, crumbled blue cheese, and picked herbs. Seal in an airtight plastic container and store in the refrigerator.

Day of: Dress the salad with whiskey vinaigrette just prior to serving.

More From Food

Raw salmon steak on a plate on a wood table
Raw salmon steak on a plate on a wood table

How to Pair Whisky With Salmon

Learn how to pair a variety of whisky styles from scotch to Irish with salmon that’s been smoked, cured, or oven-roasted.