Ingredients for 4 large servings:
2 cloves garlic, minced (or diced or mashed or whatever)
1 entire 2-ounce tin of flat anchovy fillets
2 ounces Capers
2 coddled eggs
1 cup croutons (see below)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 medium bunches of romaine lettuce
1 small lemon cut into quarters
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, crushed fine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
These quantities are approximate. Experiment to suit your own taste.
For example, fewer anchovy fillets will make the dressing less tart. You
can vary the relative proportion of olive oil as much as a factor of two
to adjust the total bulk of dressing for different amounts of lettuce with
little effect on the flavor.
1. Wash and dry the lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces and chill until ready to toss.
2. Press the garlic cloves into the bowl. With a large wooden spoon squeeze the pieces against the side of the bowl mashing them into small bits.
3. Cut up the anchovy fillets and then add to the bowl. Mash them with the spoon to make a paste. Add the Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and mustard and mix into the paste.
4. Break the shell of the coddled eggs over the bowl by striking with a butter knife. Pour into the bowl whatever flows out of the shell halves. Discard the shells and the small portion of egg white that still clings to the shell. Thoroughly mix the ingredients by swirling the bottom of the wooden spoon around the inside of the bowl.
5. Squeeze the juice of a lemon quarter into the bowl, add the olive oil, and mix again as above.
6. Immediately before you are ready to eat the salad, toss the lettuce in the bowl until the leaves are well coated with dressing.
7. Squeeze the remaining lemon and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and the parsley flakes over the leaves. Add croutons and Capers, and toss again until all the croutons have begun to absorb some of the dressing.
8. Serve immediately on large dinner plates, usually before serving
Caesar salad notes:
Philosophy: The most important feature of a Caesar salad is the delicate taste of the dressing that you prepare in the bowl. It does not keep well and thus the salad should be eaten immediately after it is made. The lettuce and croutons serve as the vehicle for the dressing's flavor. Adding additional ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, or mushrooms, which have distinctive flavors of their own, masks the taste of the dressing and is considered highly irregular. Salad bowl: The best bowl is solid teak with a hemispherical shape about 12 inches in diameter. To care for the bowl coat it lightly with olive oil. Clean the bowl as soon as possible after serving the salad. The maker of my bowl advised not to use water in it. However, I have found that a quick rinse with warm water followed by thorough towel drying and light oiling keeps the bowl in good shape.
To prevent egg shells from cracking when first immersed in boiling water, let the eggs sit out at room temperature for half an hour. Or, warm the shells by running cool, then gradually warmer tap water over them. Bring to a boil enough water to cover the eggs. Place the eggs in the boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately remove to cool water for a few minutes. At high elevations leave them in longer (total of about 2 minutes at 7500 feet).
For very fresh, absorbent croutons make your own from ordinary white sliced bread. I use one slice per person. First, put the bread slices in the freezer (wrapped in plastic) until the slices are firm. With a sharp knife, cut off the crusts and feed the pieces to the birds. Cut the rest of the bread into roughly 1/2-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at about 250 degrees to dry them out. Stir the cubes around once or twice. Remove them from the oven when they are a very light tan color (usually 30 to 45 minutes). Croutons will stay fresh for several days in a closed refrigerated container.
The most spectacular salad contains all fresh ingredients. However, if you need to simplify the procedure, here are some recommendations for substitutions. Use a few tablespoons of lemon juice in place of a freshly squeezed lemon. In place of the garlic cloves you could sprinkle garlic powder (but not garlic salt!) into the bowl. You can try commercially prepared grated Parmesan cheese, but freshly grated Parmesan is sweeter and has a better texture. (Commercial grated cheese often contains cellulose to prevent caking. If it does, it will taste just like a cardboard box.) Ordinary head lettuce instead of romaine might do in an emergency, but it's not for guests. Anchovy paste in place of flat fillets is not a very good substitute. Never use anything but pure olive oil.
Part of the enjoyment of a Caesar salad is watching the chef create it at the table. Prepare all of the ingredients ahead of time and arrange them in saucers and bowls on a small table next to the dining table. Be sure to include a stack of dinner plates and a small bowl for discarding the egg shells. Do everything with a flourish and occasionally tip the bowl allowing your guests to watch (and sniff) your progress.