House Dressing

When I was in college, there was a sandwich shop that made the most amazing dressing for their sandwiches. It was so good that many people (especially poor college students) would skip all the messy meat and cheese, and stick with bread and dressing. They used to (and probably still do) sell the ends of bread (cut from round-ish loaves for sandwiches) in a bag, along with containers of house dressing. As I recall, for about $3.50 (this was some years ago) you had enough for two to share — maybe a half-pint of ‘House’ (as the dressing was called) and a loaf’s worth of bread ends. It wasn’t a meal, but it could stand in place of one without a lot of embarrassment and shuffling of feet.

Not my actual sandwich
Not my actual sandwich

When Kathy and I went back to the College of Knowledge for our 15-year reunion, the first thought I had, was that I would get a chance to taste that dressing again.

“It will be such fun, we’ll get to see some of our old friends, I can hardly wait!” Kathy exulted.

I smiled and kept quiet. Don’t get me wrong — I greatly enjoyed seeing all those old friends, but I was in it for the House Dressing.

I had tried, over the years, to replicate that taste, rumored to be top secret, only known to the owners of the sandwich shop, for this I used different kitchen appliances from sites as I’d even resorted to ‘Student House’ which is a mixture of mayo, mustard and ketchup, traditionally (and cheaply) made from the little condiment packets that fast food restaurants provide. It just wasn’t the same.

A few weeks ago, I got a hankering for that old taste again. As I was about to resign myself to a House-less fate (it is hard to justify airline tickets to the East Coast to buy a pint of House), I suddenly had a great idea: “What about that inter-web thingy? Maybe I should Goggle it or something?” I am, after all, a programmer by trade.

Five minutes later, I had the start of a recipe, and have since honed my craft. Here’s what I came up with:

House Dressing

  • 6-8 heaping tablespoons of light mayo
  • 2 flat tablespoons of mustard (I use Gulden’s, but I think any decent mustard would do)
  • 2 flat tablespoons of steak sauce (I used the Albertsons generic, but I think any worchestershire-based sauce would do)

Yields, um, about 10-12 tablespoons of delectable House-substitute. (Yep, I can add.)

Stir and enjoy, usually on the end of a piece of bread, cracker or pretzel. It is a great way to get people to eat bread that is slightly stale — indeed, when you have a tub of House, you wander around looking for bread of any kind. If it is too spicy for your taste, add more mayo, too bland, add more steak sauce & mustard in small amounts.

Considering that light mayo is only about 35 calories per tablespoon, the whole recipe is in the neighborhood of 300 calories, although that doesn’t count the loaves of bread you’ll consume.

I’m sure House purists in Williamsburg would sneer at my poor substitute, but, hey, they can afford to sneer. They can buy the real thing. For those of us in exile, it’s the next best thing.


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7 thoughts on “House Dressing”

  1. HI, Tim- what fun to find a recipe that brings so many memories with it- as well as great taste! We loved our years at Wm and Mary- and have some tasty visions of past restaurants, too. When we were there for Homecoming, we saw a huge line at the Deli-ha-that used to be a favorite spot. Hope you are doing well this day. I’ll try your recipe when we get our kitchen put back together.

    Love you, Mamie

  2. yum! love those memories of good food.

    have missed your blogging, does this mean you will be blogging again on a regular basis??? (hope, hope, hint, hint)

  3. I’m just a little slow to read & comment… is it the cheese shoppe? The same family has opened a restaurant next door to their (since 1983) new location, called The Fat Canary. Mark & I ate there once – snazzy & good. But the shoppe is more in our budget. Can’t believe I’ve lived back in the ‘burg over a year and haven’t yet gotten a sandwich there yet! But I have been to the college delly for baklava.

  4. I thought of making “Tim’s House Dressing” as we winged our way across the Pacific. I determined to make it at the first opportunity when we got home.

    Today was the day. I should remember to assemble all ingredients before I begin these projects…hmmm…no steak sauce…but I do have Worcestershire sauce and yakiniku sauce. I’m fairly certain this isn’t the same taste you have…but it will work….and I’ll buy some steak sauce next time I make it to the base.

  5. Choosing your Christmas present just got so much easier, Uncle. I’m sure shipping liquids trans-continentally won’t be a problem.

    On another note–so glad to see you blogging again. It’s been a long hiatus, and I missed the pictures and the wit.

  6. Stumbled on your blog tonight after not visiting for ages, and I’m thrilled to see you posting! In all honesty, I’ve not been great about visiting other blogs as FB creeps more and more into my life. But FB is too superficial–I enjoy seeing the details, the more “real” things that blog posts offer. :)

    The House Dressing sounds fab.

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