If I had to make a list of the most charming towns in Upstate New York Clayton would make the list. In fact, I think I would place it pretty high on that list, but having spent summers there fishing off the village docks, and drifting around goose bay in a row boat, I might be a tad biased.
I have always loved the thousand island region, 1000 island dressing grew on me as I got older. I think it is one of those complex flavor combinations that are hard for kids to enjoy. It might be my indifference to the salad dressing when I was younger, but even with all my time spent hanging out at the Village docks, I had no idea that the origins of the pink-ish salad dressing are somewhat of a mystery, and a source contention between Clayton, and the neighboring town of Alexandria Bay.
1000 Island Dressing, the Clayton version
Residents of Clayton lay claim to Thousand Island Dressing, saying a local fishing charter’s wife named Sophia LaLonde created the salad dressing for shore dinners. She is said to have concocted the tangy dressing to be served at fishing parties for her husband George LaLonde Jr., who guided sportsmen looking to fish for black bass, northern pike and muskie along the St. Lawrence River, and served it at the Herald Hotel (now known as the Thousand Islands Inn), in the early 1900s.
1000 Island Dressing, the Alexandria Bay version
But citizens of Alexandria Bay say Thousand Island Dressing was created by a chef of George Boldt’s while boating in the area on his yacht around the same time.
The story is that while cruising on his steam yacht, the chef was lacking ingredients for a salad dressing and created the Thousand Island dressing with what ingredients he did have on hand, and George Boldt so liked it he asked the chef to make it again, and served it in his hotels including the Waldorf-Astoria. Today bottles of the dressing are sold at Boldt Castle’s gift shop on Heart Island.
No matter which town you are more likely to agree with, there is no denying that this tangy dressing is perfect for iceberg wedge salads, and Reuben sandwiches. If you like Big Macs, a big reason maybe because of that tasty “secret” spread that is plopped onto both buns of the world’s most popular fast food hamburger. 1000 Island dressing isn’t like any other salad dressing, but it is remarkably easy to make, and as a bonus, the homemade version tastes about a thousand times better than the stuff you can pick up at the grocery store.
Even though the area from which this salad dressing hails is the “1000 Islands”, the dressing is almost always referred to as “1000 Island”, and today it is the only salad dressing named for any region in the United States.
Homemade 1000 Island Dressing
- 1 cup quality mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Chili Sauce (such as Heinz)
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons sweet relish
- 2 teaspoons dehydrated minced onion
- 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
- 1/2 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, ketchup, sweet relish, dehydrated minced onion, garlic, and egg. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to blend.
For best flavor, refrigerate for an hour before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.