In Praise of Caesar Salad

Discussion in 'Food & Travel' started by Knave, Sep 15, 2003.

  1. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    Tonight I made a Caesar Salad for dinner. It was excellent, the product of years of a somewhat obsessed madman's experimentation. That madman is me.

    I love Caesar Salads. Every couple years I become fixated on improving my recipe and in a compulsive frenzy I make one everyday for several days in a row in an attempt to fine tune the preparation. Each night I change one thing very slightly and record the results. Once several years ago when I was still in college I made one everyday for a week.

    It has become a joke amongst my family and friends that no matter what else is on the menu if a Caesar Salad is listed I will order it. This, however, has become a rather twisted practice over the years because I know going into it that the salad I get in a restaurant will hardly measure up to the one I make at home. And so although I am compulsively driven to try it, I never enjoy it as I can only lament that mine is much better.

    There was once a rival to my recipe made at a little place called The Island Cafe in Corte Madera, California. Their Caesar Salad was extraordinary. Indeed, it might have been better than mine. In retrospect it was that salad that set me on this obsessive quest to perfect my own recipe.

    Perhaps I am the only who loves Caesar Salads with such passion. Perhaps there are others. Who knows. But it’s a pity that so many people will never have a really good Caesar Salad. Theyll get a poor imitation at a restaurant. Or they'll pour some horrible goop from a bottle. But they'll never experience the bliss that is a genuinely well prepared, homemade Caesar Salad. And so as a public service to the food board …

    Knave's Caesar Salad Recipe ... until I tweak it further

    1 Head Romaine Lettuce (or 10oz bag)
    1 Egg (raw)
    1/8 cup Lemon Juice
    1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
    1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
    2 tsp. Minced Garlic + to taste
    1/2 tsp. Anchovies (4-5 fillets or paste)
    1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
    1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper + to taste
    1 Pinch Chipotle Chile Pepper (very finely ground)
    1/4 cup Olive Oil
    1/4 cup Reggiano Parmesan (grated) + to taste

    1/4 cup Grana Padano instead of Reggiano Parmesan
    Grilled Chicken
    Grilled Bell Pepper (Anything but green. Skin removed.)
    Homemade Garlic Croutons

    Procedure: Put the lettuce in a bowl and stick it in the fridge until the dressing is ready. Cutting, tearing or from a bag – it makes no difference as long as it’s Romaine. Onto the dressing. Break the raw egg into a blender. Add the lemon juice and give it a brief whirl on low. Next add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, anchovy, salt and both peppers. Give it another brief whirl. Next add the olive oil and let it blend to a smooth consistency. Then add the cheese and blend again until smooth. Taste and add black pepper and garlic to taste. Pour over lettuce and toss. Taste and add cheese to taste. Add in any variations.

    Notes: Ingredients matter. Use good stuff. Maille Dijon mustard, Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce and ground chipotle from McCormick are my choices. Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil and real Reggiano Parmesan. Use sea salt, not regular salt. Careful with the chipotle. It’s not there for the spice as much as for the smokiness. And a little goes a long way. If you're squeamish about the raw egg – well, don’t be a wuss.

    Grana Padano is an Italian cheese that’s similar to Parmesan, yet different. It’s an interesting variation. The grilled bell pepper isn’t traditional but I like it. And the grilled chicken, just season it with pepper. The dressing will do the rest. I only use croutons when I’m feeling ambitious as I like to make my own. I roast the garlic, puree it in olive oil, toss it with sourdough bread cubes and then stick it in the oven until crisp. It’s rather labor intensive and, well, I’m usually to lazy to be bothered.

    But all in all it’s a very simple recipe. The only strange thing I put in is the chipotle pepper. And actually even that’s not that strange if you consider the fact that the Caesar Salad actually originated in Mexico. Here’s the history …

    And so I'll conclude on that note. And I think I’ll make another Caesar Salad tomorrow night … :)
  2. afgrijselijkheid

    Dec 29, 2002
    AFC Ajax
    oh you're right it is the best salad EVER!!! and it's not even close - i like grilled chicken on mine - there are some restaurants that do it right, but i will use your recipe the first chance i get, sounds excellent - you are a true samaritan, i'm not sure they make the caesar in europe much

    i didnt have time to read the link, but i will later
  3. Excape Goat

    Excape Goat Member+

    Mar 18, 1999
    Real Madrid
    I am not a salad fan(I hate vegetables), but used to enjoy Caesar Salad until I discovered that the dressing is very fat. So I might as well go back to eating red meat for my diet!!!! :)
  4. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    I'll have to ask my wife to give me her Caesar's Salad recipe. It rocks.
  5. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hail Caesar!
  6. Red Harvest

    Red Harvest Member

    Mar 5, 2001
    Costco sells some of the biggest Caesar salads I've ever seen for about $6.50 with sliced grilled chicken breast on top and everything.

    Freaking huge and ultra-good.
  7. CrewDust

    CrewDust Member

    May 6, 1999
    Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Good Stuff.
  8. babytiger2001

    babytiger2001 New Member

    Dec 29, 2000
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nothing like an absolutely heavenly Caesar Salad. Even better with grilled chicken breast, as Bluedaddy19 said.

    Knave, I'm going to give your recipe a go, as I'm always looking to build on the never-ending quest for a food-lover utopia.

    In that spirit, my wife is going to print out this thread. :)
  9. babytiger2001

    babytiger2001 New Member

    Dec 29, 2000
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thought I'd bump this thread, just to relate one of my recent Caesar Salad utopian experiences...

    My wife and I were travelling through Bacchus Marsh a few weeks ago, on some down time related to her job (she's a primary school teacher there in a town that is situated midway between Ballarat and Melbourne, and about 45 minutes away from either of those cities). Can't remember the name of the restaurant in the centre of town there, but I had a large Caesar Salad which had equal parts lettuce, anchovies, bacon, diced hard-boiled egg, chopped olives and some ordinary table spices. That's what I could taste.

    However, the fasciniating thing that made it a bit scrumptious was the fact that the Caesar dressing was present, yet not overpowering. Just enough, and just the right amount to cover the salad, so that one could enjoy the individual pleasures of the salad itself.

Share This Page