Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Classic Cesar Salad

Store-bought Cesar dressing is to a real Cesar salad what Kraft Shake Cheese is to Parmesan Reggiano. That is to say, store-bought Cesar dressing tastes like shit, is full of garbage additives, and is an all-around rip-off. Making the real thing only takes a few minutes and is infinitely more gratifying and delicious.

And for what it's worth, Cesar salad is not Italian, nor is it American. It was originally conceived at a Tijuana hotel in 1924 by Chef Cesar Cardini when he ran out of normal salad ingredients over the busy 4th of July weekend and threw together the few remaining ingredients he had left. The result is a salad dressing that is delicious, bright, crisp, and perfectly balanced.

This dressing recipe makes enough for about one really nice big head of romaine. If you aren't a huge fan of anchovy, don’t worry, it’s well hidden in this recipe.

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail

2 egg yolks
1 large clove garlic, minced
A 2-oz tin of anchovies, with oil drained
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
A pinch of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil, like canola, grapeseed, or avocado--NO olive oil
Romaine lettuce
Croutons, homemade or store-bought
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, but very good)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk well (or use a food processor). Then very gradually add in oil, whisking the whole time. The more oil you add, the thicker the dressing becomes, so add a bit extra if you want a creamier consistency.

Rinse and tear lettuce up. Toss dressing with croutons and lettuce. Top with parmesan and additional fresh cracked pepper.

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