If you want a great Caesar salad, you'd better make it yourself at home or be sure you are ordering it from a first-rate restaurant. the classic version has been all but eclipsed by shortcuts and poor techniques, not to mention dubious updates like grilled romaine and additions like lackluster grilled chicken or shrimp. With a marriage of crisp romaine hearts, homemade croutons, and a clingy, garlicky dressing, this salad, when made well, is an exercise in coaxing the most from each ingredient.We start with the croutons, which must be homemade if they are to take center stage. It's also important to mince the anchovies FIRST before you mash them into a paste. Otherwise the paste is really just a bunch of unappealing looking anchovy chunks.Opinions abound when it comes to the dressing (and whether to coddle the eggs or not) and how to infuse it with the flavor of anchovy and garlic. We used two egg yoks and a mix of robust extra-virgin olive oil and milder canola oil as its base. To bring out the garlic flavor without overpowering the dressing, we used garlic paste (simply grate the garlic on a rasp-style grater) and tempered it by soaking it in a little lemon juice first.
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 large egg yoks
- 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, minced, and mashed to paste with fork (1 tablespoon)
- ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 5 tbsp canola oil
- 5 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ oz Parmesan cheese, grated fine (¾ cup)
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts cut into ¾-inch pieces (8 cups)
- Jen's Tasty Garlicy Croutons see separate recipe
- Grate 1-2 peeled garlic cloves into paste using rasp-style grater (you'll need about ¾ teaspoon)
- Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice and garlic paste together in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Whisk in 2 egg yolks, 6 rinsed and dried anchovy fillets, mashed into paste with fork (1 tablespoon), and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
- Whisking constantly, drizzle 5 tablespoons canola oil and 5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil into bowl in slow, steady stream until emulsified.
- Add ½ cup finely grated Parmesan and pepper to taste, and whisk until incorporated. Add 2 romaine hearts, cut into ¾-inch pieces, and toss to coat.
- Add croutons and mix gently until evenly distributed. Season with up to 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve, passing ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan.
From The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, pages 483-485.
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