How to Prepare Great Caesar Salads
One of my favorite salads and one that I usually request when dining out is Caesar Salad. I remember dining at a couple of restaurants in New York City where they made the Caesar Salad table side with such flair and showmanship. Now you are lucky if they make the dressing from scratch.
History of the Caesar Salad
This popular dish was originally created in 1924 by Italian chef Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico and was prepared and served right at the table. If you have never experienced "the show" that goes with table side presentation, you don't know what you missed.
What an opportunity for a waiter to show off his stuff, mixing and whisking to the delight of the patrons.
For those of you who are not fans of anchovies, you may be interested in knowing the original recipe for this salad did not include them. So when the waiter asks if you want anchovies on your Caesar Salad, tell him,
" No, I prefer Chef Cardini's original recipe."
What About Those Raw Eggs for Caesar Salad?
Although some recipes use a raw egg, a coddled egg will give the dressing a smoother, creamier texture. How does the Reluctant Gourmet coddle an egg?
Easy, bring a small pot of water to fast boil and gently place the egg into it and cook for 60 seconds. Remove the egg from the water and cool off under cold water to stop the cooking process.
You can buy a variety of bottled Caesar Salad dressings in your grocery store even one that has an photo of Chef Cardini on it, but none are as good as making it yourself.
The recipe below is not Cardini's original recipe but one that was given to me by a chef in New York City. You can also buy a variety of commercial croutons, but I highly recommend making your own.
It's easy and the taste is far better than any crouton you can purchase. You can store the croutons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day.
Caesar Salad Recipe
For the Croutons
For the Salad
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1½ teaspoons anchovy paste or 4 flat anchovies
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup olive oil virgin
- 2 heads romaine lettuce outer leaves removed
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese grated
For the Croutons
- Combine garlic, oil, salt, and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until cubes are coated evenly.
- Spread the coated cubes onto a baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden. This should take about 10 minutes.
For the Salad
- Bring a pot of boiling water to boil, add egg and cook for just 60 seconds....NO MORE. This is coddling the egg. Remove the egg from the water and let it cool off. You can also run the egg under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Meanwhile, mix the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovy, mustard and capers in a bowl.
- Crack the coddled egg and add to these ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
- Now for the tricky part. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking again until smooth. Reason: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will be separate and not emulsify.
- Tear the romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to a large bowl (wooden if you have one).
- Add half the dressing, toss, add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons and toss again.
- Serve on chilled plates.