This is not a drill, it has been found! For years and years I have personally been looking for someone who at least had a copycat recipe for the iconic “Pink Dressing” recipe from Shillelagh’s in Lake Charles, and eventually Sulphur. Growing up, when my parents and I would go out to eat in those days, it was like 4 or 5 options to go to: Bonanza, Pat O’ Carrols, Mr. D’s on the Bayou, or Shillelagh’s. Most of the time, mom would pick Shillelagh’s, especially if she was on a health kick. She would catch one of their salads and get it with THE dressing. Now, me being a fat kid, I wanted the dressing but not for the salad. My move was to dip my fries in the dressing. So you better believe I got a side of it just for that. I remember you’d get it served in a metal gravy boat-looking container.
The iconic restaurant left the Lake Charles area but opened up on Highway 27 where I think Los Ponchos is. I could be wrong, it was 20 years ago. I remember taking my high school girlfriend there on payday. We would get a huge order of fries and the dressing. Obviously, I spoiled her with the finer things in life. Not to be one to waste, and me being fat, when we were done, I would drink the rest. My grandmother told me not to waste food.
As I got older, the nostalgia hit me wishing I could have that dressing again and put it on EVERYTHING. I remember trying to google it, not that I expected much from it. I would always come up with zilch. After I started in radio and writing articles, I decided to use this platform to help me find the recipe. Surely in the social media world someone just HAD to have it, right? To my surprise, no one seemed to know even more than an ingredient or two. We all heard that it had peanut butter in it, but that was about all anyone seemed to know. Some commented that the dressing at Tony’s pizza is close. I agree, but close is for horseshoes and hand grenades.
That article got shared and shared, but all of our efforts together came back with nothing. Until this weekend. Friday evening as we were getting ready to get on stage for the Marshland Festival, I see a post from a friend of mine, Dustin Shidla. Randomly, he just posed the question about the famous pink dressing was the best. Off go the comments, including my own remark on how I had been looking for the recipe for most of my life. Then I got a notification from David Pearce. I will now refer to David as my angel. David posted a picture of a piece of paper on a counter. The top of this note was labeled “Pink Salad Dressing”.
Was this it? Is this my Great White Buffalo? I read through the ingredients and saw peanut butter. Ok, that seems more legit. Dustin commented that David the Angel had indeed gotten the recipe from another Facebook group. The story is that someone who used to manage one of the restaurants posted the recipe in the group. Ok, that was good enough for me to go ahead and get more excited. What was next? Well, I was stuck at the Marshland Festival. I did the next best thing, I sent the picture to Dad for him to make it and have them try it out ASAP.
Saturday afternoon I get a call from my mom.
Russell, where did you get that recipe? Your father put too much peanut butter in it, but it’s THE recipe!
She’s got a taste memory as good as mine. It passed the Mom test! Dad sent me a picture of his mixing bowl. I was instantly transported back to the days of french fries and dressing. So, without further ado, here is the official unofficial Pink Dressing recipe from Shillelagh’s.
Pink Salad Dressing
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Orange Juice
2 Tb Honey
2 Tbs Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Tsp Minced Fresh Ginger
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
Whisk together and add a couple of drops of red food coloring
Yep, that’s it. Dad suggested to be sure to use FRESH ginger. He didn’t and feels that it changed the flavor for sure. Like any recipe in Louisiana, it’s simply a guideline.
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