Loaded Chicken Caesar Salad

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 2
  • Level: easy

‘We think Dad’s Caesar dressing is heavenly, let us know if you agree?’

Pete
‘The classic with a couple upgrades… There's that WDC speciality again, proper Caesar dressing!’

What you need

For the salad

1 large roasted breast of chicken

4 sliced of un smoked streaky bacon

1 large or two small heads of Romaine lettuce

1 thick slice of sourdough – or other – bread

200g waxy potatoes

100g peas or green beans

6 medium spears of broccoli

1 large tomato

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

 

For the dressing
Large pinch salt

Large pinch ground black pepper

1/2 clove garlic – grated

2 large anchovy fillets in oil

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs good white wine vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 large fresh organic egg yolk

125ml virgin olive oil

2 tbs thick creme fraiche



Dad's Recipe Tales

Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini in the late 20’s. Caridini owned restaurants in America, but also in Tijuana, Mexico to attract Americans avoiding prohibition.

Much has been lost in translation when it comes to the original Caesar. The first salad was designed during a night when Cardini’s kitchen supplies were depleted. Presumably the elaborate table-side, whisking and tossing theatrics were quickly improvised to disguise the relatively meagre ingredients (bread, lettuce and bacon).  Since then the salad has become famous and is served throughout the world, Caesar’s original ‘theatre’ has gone and the salad augmented with the ingredients of a fully stocked larder: avocado, chicken, tuna, prawns, steak, and just about anything else you can think of…

In finer US restaurants it is served as a starter, or a main course for lunch – or a light, late dinner. In the UK it features on most menus as an ‘all day breakfast’ affair, where you choose your size and ingredients.

At WDC we make any number of variations depending on our mood, appetite and the contents of the larder. This fully loaded version attempts at a more balanced meal, including potatoes and extra greens. I like tomato with Caesar dressing – when they mingle it creates a deconstructed Marie Rose sauce. This must be why there are so many versions of a Caesar salad – the dressing is infinitely versatile and makes anything taste better.

My recipe for the dressing is based on the ‘Caesar salad song’ of Nicola Paone, an Italian American singer and restaurateur. In 1958, he opened the Nicola Paone Restaurant in New York City and apparently sang his amusing salad song (based on the recipe for Caesar salad) to his guests during the table-side salad preparations.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Make the dressing. Put all the ingredients, except the olive oil and creme fraiche into a small food processor or blender. Blend until very smooth – gradually add the olive oil while continuing to blend. Finally add the creme fraiche. Taste and check the seasoning – adding more lemon if necessary. NB: easy on the salt as the Parmesan in the salad is salty. This recipe will make enough dressing for a main salad for 4 or more portions. It is best to work with this quantity to get the correct consistency and balance. It will last in the fridge for several days.
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks. Add to a pan of lightly salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and let them steam – to release moisture. Put a saute pan on medium-high heat and when very hot add a tablespoon of light olive oil and add the potatoes. Saute until browned and crispy. Add a small knob of butter and continue to cook briefly to flavour and colour the potatoes, (but do not burn the butter.) Drain on a paper towel.
  3. Boil a pan of lightly salted water. Add the peas or beans and cook until nearly tender. Drain and immerse in cold water. When no longer warm, drain for a few minutes. Dry the beans on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  4. Wash the lettuce and spin dry – cut into pieces or leave whole to suit your taste.
  5. Cut the bacon into strips. Fry, grill or bake until crispy. Drain on a kitchen towel,
  6. Cut the bread into cubes. Put into a hot non-stick frying pan and heat on medium high heat, stirring and tossing for 5 minutes. Drizzle olive oil over the bread and continue to heat, tossing until cubes are turning brown. Season and drain on kitchen towels. Alternatively place the cubes into a bowl pour over a little olive oil. Season and place onto a baking tray. Heat in the oven on 160C or Gas mark 4 for 20 minutes. Check to ensure they do not burn.
  7. Arrange the lettuce on a serving plate or in a large shallow serving bowl, arrange the chicken, bacon, potatoes, peas or beans and croutons over the salad. Grate or peel slivers of Parmesan over the salad and serve with the dressing (the original Cardini Caesar recipe uses grated Parmesan).

If using egg is a concern – coddle the egg or boil to soft-boiled stage and then use the yolk. Otherwise omit and use an additional 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche or two tablespoons of store bought mayonnaise.

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