Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

When I was looking to make Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, I realized that I only had this very old post.  So I wanted to update the recipe using Chris Kimball’s most recent recipes and techniques. To prevent the boneless chicken breasts from overcooking and drying out, I used dry milk powder to promote a quick char (see his technique here). The Caesar Salad is based upon his best 2011 recipe (but the crouton portion of that recipe was a failure. Unfortunately, today I used store-bought croutons). Overall, the recipe was great. 4-stars. I slightly under-dressed the salad. The biggest problem was that over-sized breasts were too thick and the char-to-meat ratio left the chicken slightly under-flavored.  I modified the recipe below to solve that problem next time I make this recipe (this makes for a great summer weeknight dinner)

Light and simple

Light and simple

Comments:

  1. Next time, I will pound the chicken so that the thickest part of the breasts measures about 3/4-inch thick. The larger surface area will allow for more of a char, offering better flavor. When I cubed the thick part of the chicken, it was so thick that only one side of the chicken cubes had a char. Pounding it thin should double the amount of flavor in the chicken.
  2. I might also try boneless chicken thighs, which I have been using lately in lieu of breasts. They not only have more flavor, but are more forgiving in terms of overcooking. They are also naturally thinner.
  3. Often times people are afraid to eat raw egg yolks; but there is no way around it in making Caesar salad. One of Chris Kimball’s prior recipe cooks the egg for a scant 45 seconds in boiling water. However, the yolk’s temperature only made it up into the 70’s; I am still eating raw egg. So why bother? It turns out that a USDA study found that only 1 in every 30,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, and that most of those are merely contaminated on the outside of the shell. This step helps mitigates that slight risk.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:30 PM. Ready at 7:00 PM.

Here is the Cook’s Illustrated link to the Ceasar Salad Recipe. Chris Kimball’s grilled chicken recipe is here.  My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or three smaller breasts)
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick vegetable oil spray

  1. Trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat or skin. Pound the thicken part of the chicken so that the entire chicken is a consistent 3/4-to-1-inch thick. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup table salt and 1/4-cup sugar with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water. Add chicken to brine, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour (or until the coals are ready; i.e. step 5).
  2. After chicken has been brining for 30 minutes, prepare your charcoal grill by completely opening both the top and bottom vents. Fill a chimney starter so that it is slightly overflowing (mounded) with briquettes and light, which will take about 20 minutes to fully ignite.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, and use paper towels to pat it dry. Combine 2 teaspoons milk powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle each side with half the milk powder, spraying each side with nonstick cooking spray to moisten the powdered milk.
  4. When the coals are ready, create a two level fire by emptying 2/3rds on half the grill, and the remaining 1/3rd over the other half of the grill. Pre-heat grate for 5 minutes then clean a rub with paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  5. Put chicken with the skin-side down directly over the hottest side of the grill. Grill for 2-1/2 minutes, then flip chicken (leaving on the hot side) cooking the second side for another 2-1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken again (skin-side down) but over the cool-side of the grill; another approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees. Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving. When ready to top chicken, you can either slice or cube the chicken.

Caesar Salad:
1 large clove garlic
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 anchovy fillets
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 romaine hearts

  1. Rip the romaine into 3/4″ pieces; then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  2. Peel garlic cloves. Press directly into a large bowl, and add lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, minced the anchovies and use a fork to mash to form a paste (should have just under 1 teaspoon of paste). Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, minced anchovies, and 2 egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. Whisk until it is combined.
  5. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the canola oil and olive oil into the bowl. Whisk until the dressing has become fully emulsified. Finally, whisk in 1/2-cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Add romaine lettuce to bowl and toss until the dressing is evenly coating the lettuce. Add croutons and gently mix gently.
  7. Slice the chicken crosswise into 1/2″-thick slices, or cube chicken into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes.
  8. Serve salad immediately on individual plates or bowls, then add sliced chicken breast on top of each salad.
  9. Pass the remaining Parmesan cheese separately.
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2 Responses to Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

  1. I wish I could learn to like anchovies.

    • Haha. If you get the balance correct, you will only notice a bite/kick to the salad. It will not be identifiable as anchovies. When I first made his recipe and used the requisite 6 filets; way too strong. I now never use more than 3.

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