Caesar salad is without a shadow of a doubt my all-time favourite salad I can be a purist about it, and I like it made classically without the addition of bacon, chicken and anything else that people add to it these days.
We learnt how to make it when I was at Hotel School many moons ago, and made it Gueridon Service. In case you don’t know what that means: ‘ Gueridon service is when food is presented, cooked, or finished in a trolley in front of the guest’. It’s old-fashioned and seldom seen these days and it was highly stressful as a student having to make things in front of the guests at our Hotel School Restaurant. We had to make a variety of dishes including the more complicated Steak Diane and Crepe Suzette which required actual cooking and flambe, to slicing a Chateaubriand or making a Caesar salad.
We made the dressing in a large bowl starting off with the garlic and anchovy and then adding the coddled egg. We mixed this furiously with the olive oil which was added slowly in order to emulsify it. We then added the grated Parmesan and tossed the whole lettuce leaves in the bowl with the croutons, seasoned with black pepper and dished it up onto plates for the guests using silver spoons. I remember chopped parsley going on the top and I don’t recall any vinegar although a few classic recipes do include this.
To read a bit more about the history of the Caesars salad you can check out this blog post.
From time to time, I do like to just go balls to the wall and throw it all in.
- Cos lettuce (Romaine lettuce)
- Parmesan cheese – grated or shaved
- a few rashers of bacon chopped and fried until crispy
- a Caesar salad dressing (see below)
- chicken strips
- chopped parsley
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
As long as a few of the key components are in the mix:
Firstly Cos (Romain) lettuce. I used baby gem lettuce here as there were no Cos when I went shopping (don’t get me started on this topic) and it’s the next best option.
The second important component is the dressing, and I made one by squashing 3 anchovy fillets (I love anchovies) with 1 clove of crushed garlic in the bottom of a bowl. I added a coddled egg which I had cooked for 1 minute and whisked furiously with olive oil to emulsify it. I added some lemon juice to give it acidity, chopped parsley (optional) and black pepper. It doesn’t need salt because the anchovies provide enough of this.
The third element to get right is the croutons and I made these by slicing a small loaf of bread into thick slices and buttering each side of each slice generously with garlic butter. The type of bread you use will determine the type of crouton. So if you want harder and crunchier croutons, use solid bread, if you like lighter and more airy croutons, use a lighter loaf.
I made the garlic butter by crushing a large clove of garlic with about 150gms of butter and a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Cut the slices into cubes and fry lightly in the same pan that the bacon had been fried in until they just started to go brown and have absorbed all the fat. Pop them in a hot oven (200 C) and roast them for 10 minutes turning a few times to ensure even cooking and no burning.
For this salad I used the left over chicken strips from the crispy chicken wraps I had made, fried up a few chopped up rashers of bacon and shaved Parmesan cheese. You can just fry a chicken breast which has been sliced into strips.
Toss the lettuce, Parmesan cheese, chicken, bacon and croutons in a bowl and coat with the dressing.
To make this even more over the top, I scattered over a few toasted pine nuts, more Parmesan cheese shavings and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.