Monday, August 1, 2011

Caesar Salad

I will confess that it took me many years to finally get around to having a Caesar salad. Yes, I'd heard about them forever but never ordered one in a restaurant and...OK, let's cut the bull here. Anchovies!!!! It was a salad with raw anchovies in it. Sure, I had learned to love anchovy sauce over Roman Easter Lamb, in any number of pasta sauces. But this was on a salad. (Notice I said 'on' and not 'in.' ) When I thought of Caesar Salads I thought of Lucille Ball in The Long Long Trailer making a Caesar salad and laying these long, raw anchovies over the top of it. That meant that someone was going to get an entire anchovy fillet on the end of his fork and have to eat and enjoy it. Then in 2004, Gourmet published that wonderful cookbook with the yellow cover that has become, for me, one of my primary "go to" books for superior recipes. Besides having a culinary crush on Ruth Reichl, I have come to trust her love and devotion to food and have not made one thing in the book that disappointed me. So it was only natural that I finally give that invention of Caesar Cardini's a go. (Yes, as I mentioned on the show, the Caesar Salad was created by him in his restaurant in Tijuana and not in some place in Italy. ) I hope you'll give this version a try. You will add it to your repertoire, I promise!

Caesar Salad

3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons olive oil
5 slices good quality while bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 anchovy fillet
1 large head of romaine lettuce torn into pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mash garlic to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar with a pestle, then sir in 4 tablespoons of oil. (or mince and mash to a paste with a large knife, transfer to a bowl and stir in oil.) Force the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
Spread the cubed bread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and toss with garlic and oil mixture. Return to baking sheet and bake 7 minutes longer. Set aside to cool in pan.
Whisk together the rest of the oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and anchovy in a large bowl.
Add lettuce and toss, then sprinkle with the cheese, croutons and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well and serve.

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