Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ceasar Salad - The Original recipe!

There are so many truly bad Ceasar Salads served in restaurants.  Thick pre made goop in a bucket that people call Ceasar dressing is so very poor in quality.  Overly seasoned croutons are a bad Ceasar salad norm too. 
     The original Ceasar dressing was a very light texture and golden in color.  It was made quickly on a busy night when food was running out in a busy kitchen is one famous story.  The fact is, Ceasar dressing is made to order, ala minute! 
     Ceasar salad originally was a thin wedge of romaine leaf with the stem attached.  The customer was expected to pick the lettuce up by the stalk, dip into the dressing on the plate and dine with the fingers.  That was the style of fine dining in those days.  Croutons, pimiento and anchovies accompanied this salad.  A sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan cheese accompanied the dressing too.  A few oil cured black olives were served on the plate.  (Not Calamata olives!) 
     Anchovy in the dressing or not?  That is the only option.  The original had anchovy filets on the plate and none in the dressing.  Later anchovy paste or chopped anchovy became part of the dressing. 
     Ceasar Salad Recipe:  Make the dressing first so the flavors meld! 
     Pour a little bit of virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl.  Add an egg yoke.  Whisk gently and constantly while adding the ingredients.  Add a crushed garlic clove, a light dash of Worcestershire Sauce, coarse ground black pepper, sea salt, a dab of chopped anchovy or anchovy paste (optional), a little dab of dijon mustard, a little splash of red wine vinegar and  the freshly squeezed juice of a half of a lemon.  Then drizzle in a little bit more virgin olive oil while stirring. 
     The dressing should have a thin smooth body and it should far from creamy.  It should be gold in color. 
     Add a very light sprinkle of grated parmesan to the dressing if you wish. 
     Remember, you are not making a mayonnaise!  Ceasar Dressing is more like a tightened vinaegrette.  Let the dressing set and arrange the salad. 
     Croutons:  Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add unseasoned square cut, small dice shaped French bread with the crust removed.  Stir and saute the small bread cubes gently till they become crisp and golden.  Set the croutons aside.  (Add absolutely no seasoning to the croutons!  This is the way ceasar croutons are supposed to be.) 
     Ceasar Salad Assembly:  Set two clean, trimmed romaine quarters on a plate.  Garnish with oil cured ripe olives, anchovy filets, lemon slices, croutons and thin sliced pimiento.  Spoon the dressing over and around the lettuce.  Sprinkle a little fresh grated parmesan cheese over the lettuce. 
     What a classic Ceasar it is!  The olive oil flavor permeates the unseasoned croutons.  The plain croutons don't compete with the dressing's flavor at all.  Picking the lettuce up by the stalk and dipping it in the ceasar dressing is a fun way to eat this salad!  Delicious!  ...  Shawna

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