January 10, 2013
I love a good Caesar salad. In fact, for years, I always ordered some form of a Caesar salad when out at a restaurant. (Remember Forget Paris with Billy Crystal's character always ordering veal parmigiana--no matter the city or restaurant? For a while, that was me and chicken Caesar salads.)
In the town where I grew up, there is a locally-owned steakhouse renowned for its Caesar salads. At this restaurant, Caesar salads are made in large table-side bowls, and copies of the recipe are available on cards for patrons. Over Christmas, I played sous-chef and helped my dad make this. My dad is a surgeon, and he would call for ingredients like he'd call for suction or a scalpel. It's pretty funny, but it resulted in a yummy salad. This salad is so good that I decided to make it for a recent dinner party!
Two ingredients which really make for the best Caesar dressing: eggs and anchovies. Here, coddled eggs are used. Coddled eggs are made by briefly immersing eggs in boiling water. Coddling allows the yolk to become slightly thickened and warm. Because eggs are used, this is a dressing meant to be use right away. Now, I know the anchovies look a little creepy and have a bad rep, but give them another chance. (Random tidbit: during the Roman empire, anchovies were used to make the condiment garum, and it cost as much as the fanciest perfumes.)
To mellow the garlic flavor, I added some sour cream to the dressing. The recipe calls for you to wet all sides of the lettuce with dressing, but of course, use as much as you please. Enjoy!
Yields 6-8 generous servings
40 oz. romaine lettuce, chopped in 1 inch squares
3 oz. anchovies
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 egg yolks, coddled
1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream, optional
2 cups croutons, optional
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place anchovies and minced garlic in a large salad bowl. Crush into a fine paste with two dinner forks. Add Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce to the paste and stir. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to stir. Slowly add olive oil while continuing to stir. Add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, half of the cheese, and the sour cream. Stir to combine.
If you are not ready to serve the salad, you can either cover the salad bowl and refrigerate, or remove the dressing and place it into a sealed container.
To prepare the salad, place the Romaine lettuce into the dressing in the bowl (if you put the dressing in a separate container, add it back to the bowl), and toss. Make sure to wet all sides of the lettuce. Add the croutons and remaining cheese. Toss lightly, and serve on cold plates with chilled forks.
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste.
Source: Adapted with modifications from LG's Prime Steakhouse (Palm Desert, California)