dimanche 21 janvier 2007

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad is a North American classic. The origin can be traced to an Italian restaurateur, Caesar Cardini, in Tijuana, Mexico. One holiday weekend in 1924, his restaurant ran short of supplies. He experimented with the available ingredients and created this salad. He instructed the servers to treat it as a house specialty and to make a ceremony of the preparation at the table.

Caesar Salad can be served as a side salad or as a meal. Nowadays there are several variations and it is usually served pre-prepared in a bowl or salad plate. The Chicken Caesar version is one of my favourite lunch meals but Paris is not the best place to order it. From time to time I try it at some of the Tex-Mex restaurants around town. I had it this weekend while I was out shopping and was pleasantly surprised – the chicken was real, the romaine crisp, the parmesan shaved not grated and the dressing served on the side. This Tex-Mex version also included tomatoes and avocado.

This week’s recipe is the classic version. I would make it more often but it is difficult to find romaine in Paris.

Caesar Salad
Serves 2-4

1 large head of romaine, washed, torn into bite-sized pieces, thick cores removed, and dried on paper towels

250 mL (1 cup) of 1.5 cm (1/2”) cubes of Italian bread or French baguette
1 clove garlic, minced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) olive oil

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Combine garlic, olive oil and bread cubes in a bowl; mix to coat evenly. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

2 anchovy filets, cut in small pieces (optional)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5 mL (½ tsp) hot English mustard
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 egg yolks*
45 mL (3Tbsp) grated Parmesan cheese
125 mL (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the anchovy, garlic, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in the bottom of a large wooden salad bowl and add a few croutons to aid in the crushing process. Using a large spoon crush and mash the ingredients into a thick, very smooth paste.
Add the lemon juice and two egg yolks and beat the dressing. Add 1 Tbsp of Parmesan and pour in the oil in a thin stream, beating very fast until the dressing is thick and creamy.

To assemble the salad, toss the romaine and croutons with the dressing and mix thoroughly.

* Raw egg yolks can be replaced by a 1 minute boiled egg or a coddled egg (lower the eggs gently into boiling water and immediately turn off the heat. Remove the eggs after 1 minute.) Crack eggs and separate whites from yolks, using only the yolks for the salad dressing.

Copyright 2007 Jan McIntyre

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