Today: April Bloomfield shares A Girl and Her Pig's first recipe of the week -- get ready to make some Caesar salad.
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I grew up eating boring salads, horrible and underdressed. The old-school salads I learned to make at culinary school, like Waldorf and Niçoise and the mayo-and-curry-spiked Coronation Chicken, were better, for sure. But the Caesar was the first salad I ever really loved. Soon after I graduated, I got a job at a restaurant called Kensington Place. Rowley Leigh, the chef, would mound plain Gem lettuce on a plate and serve it with Caesar dressing on the side. Oh, that dressing! Not only was the flavor a tangy, umami-packed thrill, but it was also very “clean,” as we chefs sometimes say. That is, you could taste the individual components -- first to register was the saltiness, not necessarily the fishiness, of the anchovies, then came the Parm and garlic, and finally, the tang of the vinegar.
Because of my early bland salad experiences, I like mine extra punchy -- even, in this case, what some people might consider a little overdressed. Romaine is quite watery and it needs the dressing to cut through that flatness. This is a salad I like to make and eat with my hands. I rub the dressing onto each leaf, each one like a little canoe. I’m especially fond of the freshly-baked-bread taste of the croutons -- which makes you want to seek out another, and then another -- and the refreshing quality you get from serving the salad chilled. Eat it quickly, before it warms up.
7 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, soaked, and filleted 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar 1 large egg 1 cup sunflower, peanut, or grapeseed oil A 1-ounce chunk of Parmesan, very finely grated 2 heads romaine lettuce, chilled Your favorite croutons A chunk of Parmesan for grating Maldon or another flaky sea salt A few anchovy fillets for garnish