Last February I held a Caesar Salad Shoot Out, in which I tasted three Caesar Salad recipes side-by-side. Chris Kimball’s 1997 recipe won. But now the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated (January/February 2011) has a new Caesar Salad Recipe. The most dramatic change were the croutons, which were prepared on the stovetop and mixed with 1/4 cup of water to keep them soft. I prefer his 2011 recipe for the dressing, though it is only a slightly change from his 1997 recipe.
Overall, I’d give the dressing 5-stars. It was brighter than his 1997 recipe, and omitted the egg white, which I believe was only diluting the flavor. The extra lemon (optional in step 4 below) added better flavor. The croutons were only 2-1/2 stars. Though I let them cook on the stovetop for 15 minutes (the recipe only called for 7 to 10), the outside were only lightly crisp. The croutons tasted soggy as I ate them.
Rating: 5-star for dressing. 2-1/2 stars for the croutons.
How much work? Medium; because of the croutons.
How big of a mess? Low.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.
Here is the Cook’s Illustrated link to the Crouton Recipe:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove, pressed
5 cups 3/4-inch ciabatta cubes
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine 1 tablespoon oil and garlic paste in small bowl; let marinate.
Place bread cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with water and salt.
Toss, squeezing gently so bread absorbs water.
- Place remaining 4 tablespoons oil and soaked bread cubes in 12-inch nonstick skillet.
- Stirring every few minutes, cook over medium-high heat, until browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat, push croutons to sides of skillet to clear center, add garlic/oil mixture to clearing and cook with residual heat of pan, 10 seconds.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan; toss until evenly distributed. Transfer croutons to bowl; set aside.
Here is the Cook’s Illustrated link to the Caesar Salad Recipe:
1 large clove garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 anchovy fillets, minced and mashed into a paste with fork
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
Ground black pepper
2-1/2 romaine hearts
- Cut romaine into 3/4-inch-thick slices; then rinse and dry.
- Whisk garlic and 2 tablespoons lemon juice together in large bowl; let sit for 10 minutes.
- Whisk Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. While whisking constantly, drizzle canola oil and extra virgin olive oil into bowl. Whisk until fully emulsified. Finally, whisk in 1/2-cup Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Add cut romaine to bowl and toss until evenly coated. Add croutons and mix gently until evenly distributed. Add an additional 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional). Serve immediately, adding the final 1/4 cup Parmesan separately.