I just love Caesar salad. It makes salads worth making. Salads are so often dull and boring and get a bad name, but Caesar dressing is so bold and fresh and the anchovies just make it sing. If you think you don’t like anchovies then challenge yourself to make this, you might be eating Caesar salad in little lunch spots across the country without even realising there’s anchovies in the dressing! You can always take it slowly and add a little the first time and then build up later.
(serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter)
1 large chicken breast
5 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1 thickly sliced piece of fresh bread that’s a few days old
1 small tin of anchovies in olive oil
2 small gem lettuces and 1 small cos lettuce
4 heaped Tbsp good quality mayonnaise
1 Tsp white wine vinegar
1 Tsp dijon mustard
50g finely grated parmesan
Juice of half a small lemon
Salt, white pepper and black pepper
15ml cold water
Extra virgin olive oil
Some fresh marinated anchovies
A small pot of cress
To make the Caesar dressing place the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard into a large mixing bowl. Take 5 anchovies from the tin and finely chop them. Add the anchovies and grated Parmesan to the mixing bowl along with the water, a pinch of salt and a generous sprinkle of white pepper. Mix this well and set aside until needed. (if you’re making the dressing ahead then refrigerate until needed).
To prepare the lettuce, cut the ends from each lettuce and peel away the outer leaves. Discard the core and the smallest leaves closer to the core. Wash the leaves for the salad and dry ensuring they are completely dry, then cut them roughly as you would a ‘chopped’ salad so that you have different size pieces of lettuce.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Slice the bread into equal size croutons that resemble a slightly large dice, place the cubes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Grill the bacon on high until crisp and golden, drain on kitchen towel and set aside.
Place a griddle pan over a medium heat. Flatten the chicken breast between 2 sheets of cling film using a rolling pin until you have an even thickness. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Sear the chicken on the griddle pan for 4 minutes on each side until cooked through, rest and then slice diagonally into strips.
To assemble the dish add the lettuce leaves to the dressing in the large mixing bowl and gently fold the dressing and leaves together. Tear the bacon using your hands and add to the bowl along with the croutons and chicken, stir once more and then pile the salad onto large plates ensuring an even spread of all the tasty bits.
To finish the salad dress it with fresh anchovies (you can leave these out if you’re not a fan), parmesan shavings and cress.