I have HAD it with wimpy Caesar salads.
The decline began twenty years ago when Caesar had its great post nouvelle cuisine renaissance and everyone and their dog started serving the salad that had once been a hallmark of fine dining.
Caesar salad, like steak Diane and crepes Suzette, was once served tableside. Prepared tableside. Why? Because a proper Caesar dressing is so heavy it wilts lettuce in minutes. Because a proper Caesar calls for fresh eggs, so it can't sit around waiting to be served. A proper Caesar is too hefty to be a side salad—it should be a course in itself.
Not anymore. The neo-Caesar is a sham, a travesty, a fake. The dressing is a limp, neutered blend that barely deserves the name Creamy Italian, much less Caesar. The croutons are likely to be cold. The Parmesan's origin is a plastic bag. The garlic is probably powdered. And this salad has never met a whole anchovy.
I'm sick of it. So here is my sister's recipe for Caesar Salad, a family treasure, and the most precious thing my daughter brought to Utah with her when she moved here last year from Texas. Besides her cat.
I'm sharing it with you in the hopes that once you make it and taste it, you'll join me in a Restore Caesar's Glory campaign, and convince chefs everywhere to start making the real thing again.Don't give me that raw egg malarkey. If you're using fresh, local organic eggs (hello, Julie Clifford) you don't have anything to worry about. It can't be more dangerous than ground beef.
In Dallas, we had an annual Caesar Salad competition. What say, Slow Food? Chefs would strut their stuff in a salad bowl. Admission covered cost of basic ingredients and benefited a worthy cause. Guests got to vote. Think about it.
Here's my sister's recipe. It's slightly unorthodox (note the balsamic vinegar) and, frankly, I'm not giving you all her secrets. But this is full-strength and you'll realize what we've all been missing. And weep.
Tip: Don't make this for a first date.
Helen Duran's Caesar Salad Dressing
2 c. olive oil 4 whole garlic cloves 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce 1 lemon 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 3 fresh egg yolks 1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar 2 cups fresh toasted croutons cracked black pepper 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces 8-10 oil-packed anchovy fillets Place yolks, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, garlic and anchovies in processor with fresh cracked black pepper. Start the machine. Blend 10 seconds. Then add olive oil in slow steady stream. Stop when 1 cup oil is in. Scrape down, add vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Blend in 1/3-1/2 cup oil.
Toss with lettuce. Add Parmesan and toss again. Add croutons, toss and serve on chilled plates.