Make the perfect Caesar salad

Updated - September 19, 2014 09:20 pm IST

Published - September 19, 2014 07:06 pm IST - chennai

Chef Ritesh Patil is a Mumbaikar settled in Chennai for the past 8 years. He is currently the Chef de Cuisine at the Raintree Hotels, St. Mary’s Road. He takes care of the rooftop restaurant Above Sea Level.

Chef Ritesh Patil is a Mumbaikar settled in Chennai for the past 8 years. He is currently the Chef de Cuisine at the Raintree Hotels, St. Mary’s Road. He takes care of the rooftop restaurant Above Sea Level.

When I was first approached to work on this feature, thousands of recipes, classic and modern, minimalistic and complex, were running through my head. But after a session of brain storming, we finally settled down for everyone’s favourite Caesar Salad. I have fond memories of chomping down a Caesar at 5 a.m. in the morning after an eventful night of tequila shots and Jager bombs. Even in that state of mind, I was able to enjoy it wholeheartedly and also (if I may say) point out a few intricate mistakes in its preparation.

It just manages to interact with all the senses on your palate; crisp, sweet and mildly bitter romaine lettuce, sharp and pungent parmesan-anchovy dressing, sour from the lime and salty (and fatty) bacon rashers.

Credit should be given where its due, and I say this because 90 per cent (or even more) of the western-themed restaurants still have a Caesar on its menu. Although it may not be in its purest form due to the arrival of concepts such as deconstruction, contemporary and molecular gastronomy to name a few, the Caesar has still managed to hold and defend its fort!

This heavenly classic is even easier to make than it tastes. So let’s get going. Chop, chop!

Ingredients

 

2 handfuls of washed and drained romaine lettuce

2 whole eggs (coddled for exactly a minute)

1 small garlic clove

Juice of 1 lime

120 ml olive oil

10 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 gm parmesan cheese, grated then powdered

30 gm of brined anchovy fillet

Salt, to taste

7-8 shavings of parmesan

60 gm of any kind old/stale bread

3 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Equipment required : Clean metallic whisking bowl, dry whisk and peeler.

The Dressing

A great Caesar salad gets its swagger from a great dressing. Yolks are what give richness to the emulsion, while anchovies provide a briny blast. To get the perfect coddled eggs, dunk the whole eggs in boiling water for one whole minute, then quickly remove and refresh in ice water. Leave them to rest in a freezer for an hour so they are easy to handle later.

Slice the garlic clove in two and rub the inside of the bowl with it. Remember, we need only the subtle flavour of garlic and need not smell like some vampire repellent at the end of meal.

 

Now break the coddled eggs and carefully remove the inside into the bowl.

 

While whisking the eggs, add the olive oil in a continuous single stream increasing the flow gradually till all the oil is exhausted.

 

Finish with lime juice, powdered parmesan, salt, chopped anchovy fillets and extra virgin olive oil.

 

The Croutons

Make your own. Tearing, not cutting, the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing and add texture.

 

Toss a cup of torn 1-inch pieces of any bread at hand with 3 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 190° C, tossing occasionally, until golden for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

The Lettuce

Use a couple of handfuls of romaine lettuce, they provide the ideal mix of crispness, subtle sweetness, and structure.

The Cheese

Caesars crown with a mound of grated parmesan may look impressive, but all that clumpy cheese mutes the dressing. Instead, use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave a modest amount on top for little salty bursts.

The Pig

If only there was an instrument to measure my love and desire for bacon, I would have proved it to you. You can simply render the rashers in an oven at 160º C for about 15 minutes, turning once. You can reduce the temperature further and increase the time for crispier results.

 

The Assembly

Skip the tongs. Use your hands to gently toss the lettuce, croutons, bacon rashers and dressing, and then top off with the shaved parmesan.

 

 

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