The Pittsburgh Salad




The what??  A tough as nails city like Pittsburgh, home of iron and steel, and we’re doing salad?  Yeah, I would be wondering the same thing if I hadn’t come across this a few years ago when researching food in Pittsburgh.  I admit I’ve never been to the Steel City and other than the famous black and blue Pittsburgh steak (which we will do in another series) I had no idea what the local cuisine was.  I came across this crazy idea on many websites.  I’m sure if you’re from Pittsburgh and reading this it doesn’t seem crazy at all.  Instead of 3 separate food groups we’ve all grown accustomed, meat. starch, and vegetables, why not combine them all into one dish?

That, in essence, is The Pittsburgh Salad.  A good old-fashioned steakhouse salad with French fries, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing right on top.  Many places serve it with steak or chicken too.  So, to be a little more in spirit we will add steak to our salad.  Because this is a food and wine website and because I insist on doing everything the hard way we are going to build our salad from scratch.  To save time you can do as many residents of Pittsburgh do and buy a pre-made salad or salad kit, baked frozen French fries, bottled ranch dressing and pre-cooked or leftover steak.  By doing all the steps you can learn more food preparation and be more of a purist.  And that is in the true spirit of one of America’s greatest blue-collar cities, Pittsburgh.





2 medium Russet Potatoes, washed, scrubbed, and dried

Olive Oil

Fine Sea Salt, to taste

Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

¼ cup Mayonnaise

¼ cup Sour Cream

¼ cup Buttermilk

½ TSP White Wine Vinegar

½ TSP Dijon Mustard

1 small Garlic Clove finely chopped

1 TBSP finely chopped Yellow or White Onion

½ TBSP Italian Parsley chopped

1 TSP Chives chopped

8 oz. Hanger Steak or Flank Steak

½ TSP Garlic Powder

½ TSP Paprika

½ medium Red Onion, peeled and sliced thin

½ head of Romaine Lettuce, washed, stemmed, and cut into strips

1 cup Cherry Tomatoes

¾ cup shredded Cheddar Cheese



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees F
  2. Cut the Potatoes (leave the skin on if you like or peel) into wedges like steakhouse fries. Dry with paper towels.  Coat with a little Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper to taste.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the Potatoes in a single layer
  4. Roast until golden brown and crispy. About 30 minutes.
  5. While the Potatoes roast prepare the dressing. In a bowl combine the Mayonnaise, Sour Cream, Buttermilk, Vinegar, Mustard, Garlic, Onion, Parsley, and Chives and stir together until smooth.  Set aside.
  6. While the Potatoes continue to roast rub a little Olive Oil on the Steak. Season with Salt, Pepper, the Garlic Powder, and the Paprika.
  7. In a cast iron frying pan if you have one heat 1 TBSP Olive Oil over medium high
  8. Add the steak and sear on the first side about 4 minutes depending on how well done you like your meat and turn over. Sear the other side for about 3 minutes and transfer to a cutting board.  Let rest a few minutes.
  9. In the same pan add more Olive Oil if necessary and heat on medium low. Add the Red Onion, Salt and Pepper to taste, and fry for about 3 minutes to get the Onions a little crispy.  Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  10. Slice the Steak with the grain into ½ inch strips
  11. In a large salad bowl combine the Lettuce and Tomatoes. Add the onions and toss a few times.
  12. Separate into 2 salad plates and top with the Potatoes, then the Steak
  13. Drizzle your desired amount of Dressing to each plate and then top with the Cheese


Serves two as a light dinner entrée or lunch



WINE PAIRING:  This is a type of salad you could really enjoy with your favorite Beer.  If you prefer wine like me I would recommend a red over a white as this is a beef dish.  I would not go with a full-bodied red as the ranch dressing and salad will be overwhelmed.  A lighter red such as a Pinot Noir would be very nice.  Even a fruity red such as a Gamay most notably a Beaujolais would even work nicely.  As we get into the colder months those wines are just starting to peak.  A young Merlot would also be an option.

Author: Steve Melchior

I am a lover of many eclectic things; food, wine, art, music, travel, sports, movies, literature and of course The Grateful Dead. I combine all these interests into great ideas for food preparation and entertaining with friends and family.

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