Caesar Salad – Overthinking Classics

Caesar Salad - Overthinking Classics
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It’s time for another installment of my ongoing video series Overthinking Classics. Today, I’m tackling Caesar Salad. I chose this much-beloved salad as my next subject because I felt it dovetailed nicely with the previous episode, which covered the ins and outs of crafting the perfect Roast Chicken. Chicken Caesar Salad anyone? If you do decide to go all out and make both, I suggest saving the breast meat from your roast chicken for this salad. I’m usually a dark meat person but in the case of salads, I feel white meat is the best option. So let’s dive into this Caesar Salad.

Now, I won’t go into too much detail about this Caesar Salad in this article because I have explored every possible detail in the video below. So, if you have questions following this article, I can more or less guarantee the video will answer them for you. The video will probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about a single salad. And will provide you with insight into just how exhausting it is to live with me. Nothing is simple in this brain.

The video starts by detailing what is probably the most crucial component of any salad – the dressing. There are few salad dressings that are as iconic as the Caesar dressing, which is traditionally prepared tableside. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask that of you. I’m not even going to insist on you using raw egg yolk. But what I will insist upon is that you try making this dressing with anchovy fillets. And this insistence flies in the face of the concept behind Overthinking Classics.

When I was researching the origins of Caesar Salad, I was surprised to find that the original dressing did not include anchovies. It got its anchovy flavor solely from Worcestershire sauce. But the sauce alone didn’t impart quite enough funky umami for my tastes. But if you are sensitive to anchovy flavor, the sauce might be the better way to go. I insist that you try it at least once with the anchovy fillets because even if they don’t float your boat straight out of the can, you might really like them in the dressing. Anchovy fillets offer more of a background note when added to dressings. They are difficult to pick out of a crowd flavor-wise.

Caesar Salad - Overthinking Classics

With the dressing done, we move on to prepping the lettuce, roasting the croutons, and frying some bacon. All simple stuff. I do insist on making your own croutons. They really are so much better than the boxed ones and ask only 15 minutes of your time. Well-worth the extra step. I do not, however, insist on the bacon. The bacon was another thing I was shocked to find was not included in the original Caesar Salad recipe. I just happened to have grown up eating Caesar Salads that had bacon, and more importantly, I had some bacon in the fridge that needed to be used. But if you want to skip the bacon, that’s great! And your salad is now pescatarian-friendly.

So that’s pretty much everything there is to say about Caesar Salad. Well, not everything. If you want everything, you’ll have to check out Ms. Chatterbox in the video below. That really is everything. If you enjoy the video below, consider giving it a like and subscribing to my YouTube channel. I post a new recipe every week and a ton of extra goodies in between.

Enjoy!

Caesar Salad - Overthinking Classics

Caesar Salad

Overthought from every angle, this is THE best Caesar Salad I've made to date. Featuring a delicious from-scratch dressing, homemade croutons, and crisp bacon bits, this Caesar Salad will become your new standard of what a good salad ought to be.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Salad
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Large baking sheet
  • Large Salad Bowl

Ingredients
  

For the Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets ** chopped fine
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk coddled or raw
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard I used horseradish Dijon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice divided
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup neutral oil I used canola
  • 2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano shredded, heaping

For the Salad

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce
  • 1 small loaf ciabatta bread***
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt for sprinkling
  • 3 strips uncooked bacon coarsely chopped
  • lemon wedges for serving
  • Additional shredded Parmigiano Reggiano for sprinkling

Instructions
 

For the Dressing

  • Place the garlic and anchovies in a large bowl. **** Add the salt and sort of mash the anchovy, garlic, and salt together using the back of a fork.
    1 clove garlic, 2 anchovy fillets **, ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Once a paste has formed, add the egg yolk, Dijon mustard, and a tablespoon of the lemon juice. Whisk everything together until the mixture is more or less uniform.
    1 egg yolk, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Now it’s time to start the emulsion. Start by slowly whisking in the olive oil. Then whisk in the neutral oil. Once the oils are fully integrated you should have a  mixture with a creamy smooth consistency. If your dressing still has streaks of oil pooling on the surface, keep whisking.
    1 tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup neutral oil
  • Finish the dressing off with the shredded Parmigiano Reggiano and the remaining lemon juice. Whisk the dressing one more time and transfer it to a resealable container. Store the dressing in the fridge until you’re ready to make the salad. 
    2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. This is for the croutons.
  • Start by coarsely chopping and washing the romaine. This will give greens the maximum amount of time to dry. Transfer the lettuce to a colander and rinse well under cold water. Shake off as much excess water as possible before transfer to a baking sheet lined with a tea towel. Place another tea towel on top and pat the lettuce dry. Fold the edges of the tea towels towards the surface and transfer them to the fridge.
    1 large head romaine lettuce
  • Cut the ciabatta bread into cubes. Transfer the cubes to a large baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Drizzle the cubes with the olive oil and add a sprinkling of kosher salt. Using your hands, toss to coat the bread cubes evenly in the salt and oil.
    1 small loaf ciabatta bread***, 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Set the croutons aside to cool. Once cool you can transfer the croutons to a resealable container.
  • Place the bacon in a cold pan and place over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, then transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Set aside until ready to use.
    3 strips uncooked bacon
  • It’s time to assemble. Place the lettuce in a very large bowl, you want space for tossing. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Transfer the dressed lettuce to a platter and top with croutons, bacon, and a final sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano. Garnish the salad with lemon wedges and serve immediately.
    lemon wedges, Additional shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Notes

** If canned fish wigs you out, you can sub in a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
*** You can also use a French baguette for this or really any crusty bread.
**** I like to use a large bowl when making caesar dressing from scratch because the process requires a fair amount of aggressive whisking, and I prefer to not worry about spilling.
Keyword anchovies, bacon, croutons, romaine

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