Quick Bites from Pender

Caesar Salad Dressing – The Culinary School Method

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on January 25, 2010 at 5:02 am

caesar-salad

Caesar salad has nothing to do with Julius Caesar, Italy, or, for that matter, Europe at large.  There are a number of different stories about its “invention,” almost all of which take place in California.  Its first recorded appearance is on a LA restaurant menu from 1946.

Which is why I was a bit surprised to see it on our French Culinary School curriculum, Week 1.  But by the time we were back at our desks, chomping on the most substantial food we had made as of yet, I had made a few key discoveries related to Caesar salad:

  1. There were people in this Professional Culinary Program with me who had never used a whisk.
  2. Kenny, the self-professed Second Coming of Carême at the back of the class, preferred Earl’s Restaurants’ bottled dressing.  (Note to self:  disregard any future culinary opinions expressed by Kenny.)
  3. Chef P was right about the over-powering flavour of olive oil (especially evoo).  (Note to self:  cut olive oil with an equal amount of vegetable oil.)
  4. I had a new Caesar dressing to call my own.

caesar-salad

caesar-dressing

Everyone who tries this Caesar salad swears it’s either the best they’ve ever had, or the best they’ve had in ages.  You decide.

Caesar Salad

Serves 4+

Egg Yolk (large) 1
Dijon Mustard 2 t 10  ml
Garlic, halved, green root removed 1 clove
Anchovy Fillets 2
Olive Oil 5 T 75 ml
Vegetable Oil 5 T 75 ml
Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed 3-4 T 45-60 ml
Romaine Lettuce, picked over and washed 1 head
Croutons Approx 1 C 250 ml
Parmesan Cheese, good stuff, freshly grated ¼ C 60 ml
s+p TT

t=teaspoon        ml=millilitres      T=tablespoon

C=cup                   TT=to taste

Pulse the yolk, dijon, garlic and anchovies in a food processor (the small bowl if you have one) 4 or 5 times to blend.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then, with the processor on, slowly pour in the oils through the food chute.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as required.   Once all of the oil is incorporated and the anchovies/garlic are finely chopped, add lemon juice and s+p to taste.  Pulse to combine.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 3 days).

2 ways to assemble the salad:

  1. Using a pastry brush, brush whole leaves of romaine with dressing, sprinkle with parmesan and arrange on a large serving platter.  Garnish with croutons and freshly ground pepper.  Serve extra dressing on the side.
  2. Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces.  Toss lettuce with croutons, parmesan and salt & freshly ground pepper.  Thin dressing to a pourable consistency (see Tips below), and toss with the salad.  Serve in individual bowls/plates.

sourdough-multigrain-croutonsTips:

  • Chef P’s version originally called for 1 anchovy and ½ cup oil (total).  The extra oil in my version stretches the emulsifying capabilities of the yolk, and results in enough dressing for 2 big salads.  The extra anchovy adds flavour.
  • This is easy to make by hand.  Ensure that you mince the garlic and anchovies well.  Whisk in the oils very slowly to start.  Once some of the oil is incorporated, you can increase the pour speed.  Continue to whisk vigorously until well blended.
  • If the dressing is too thick, thin with lemon juice and/or water.
  • Croutons:  a stale loaf of bread, melted butter, chopped parsley, coarse sea salt and pepper.  I used sourdough multigrain because that’s what I had — they made for very DENSE croutons that really worked the ol’ jaw.
  • Egg whites can be frozen with little effect on quality.  Save them up for a big batch of meringues…

grated-parmesan

Caesar Salad

Serves 4+

Egg Yolk (large)

1

Dijon Mustard

2 t

10  ml

Garlic, halved, green root removed

1 clove

Anchovy Fillets

2

Olive Oil

6-8 T

90-120 ml

Vegetable Oil

6-8 T

90-120 ml

Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed

3-4 T

45-60 ml

Romaine Lettuce, picked over and washed

1 head

Croutons

Approx 1 C

250 ml

Parmesan Cheese, good stuff, freshly grated

¼ C

60 ml

s+p

TT

t=teaspoon        ml=millilitres      T=tablespoon

C=cup                   TT=to taste

Pulse the yolk, dijon, garlic and anchovies in a food processor (the small bowl if you have one) 4 or 5 times to blend.  With the processor on, slowly pour in the oils through the food chute.  Stop halfway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Once all of the oil is incorporated, add lemon juice and s+p to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 3 days).

2 ways to assemble the salad:

Using a pastry brush, brush whole leaves of romaine with dressing

Tips:

· This can easily be made by hand.  Ensure that you mince the garlic and anchovies well, then fold both in at the end with the lemon juice.

· Egg whites can be frozen with little effect on quality.  Save them up for a big batch of meringues…

· If the dressing is too thick, thin with lemon juice and/or water.

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  1. I have always wanted to try making this with anchovies, thanks for tip on cutting down on olive oil.

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