I was always of the belief that a Caesar Salad couldn’t be called a Caesar Salad without anchovies in the dressing. I was delighted to see in Nigella’s Kitchen that they weren’t in the original dressing! This made me so happy, I can’t stand when there is a strong taste of anchovies on my salad. I did a bit of research then and it seems that Caesar Cardini never used anchovies but his brother Alex added them afterwards. Yes I am a nerd, and proud of it! I read a lot of recipes and it seems there are no two recipes the same when it comes to the dressing. For this reason I say go with whatever suits you. Below is the recipe that I came up and I really did like it.
The salad is quite salty with all the Parmesan and bacon but I like that. You can leave out the bacon if you wish. You don’t have to use smoked chicken but it really is so tasty. I used Ummera Smoked Chicken which I bought in The English Market in Cork. It is available on several stalls there. It can also be purchased online through that link. You can use grilled chicken breast or even leftover roast chicken if you wish.
If you want to use anchovies, mash 2 fillets into the egg yolk when making the dressing and leave out the extra salt and Worcestershire sauce. You can use bought garlic infused olive oil if you want to save some time.
The original recipe did not have any meat. So if you want a vegetarian version leave out the meat and use a Parmesan substitute suitable for vegetarians.
Please take the usual precautions when serving raw egg products.
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a lunch
- 150mls extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 slices of day old bread or ½ a small baguette sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 50g pancetta or streaky bacon
- 200g smoked chicken
- 1 cos lettuce or romaine lettuce
- 1 large egg yolk
- 40g of grated Parmesan
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp sea salt flakes or ¼ tsp of table salt
- A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 220c/180c fan/gas mark 6.
- Crush your garlic cloves and gently heat in the olive oil over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow it to stand for 30 minutes to infuse the oil. Skip this if you are using bought garlic infused oil.
- Cut your bread to whatever size you want your croutons to be. Toss the bread in 50mls of the garlic olive oil. Lay the bread out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the bread is golden and crispy. This can be done in advance.
- Grill your pancetta or bacon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Start making your dressing. Whisk the egg yolk in a bowl and slowly add the remaining garlic olive oil, whisking the whole time. You want to make an emulsion similar to mayonnaise.
- Still whisking, add in the lemon juice and 30g of the grated Parmesan.
- When everything is well combined add a few drops of the Worcestershire sauce and the salt. Whisk again and taste to see if it needs extra seasoning.
- Tear apart the lettuce leaves but leave them whole. Wash and dry them on kitchen paper. Place them into a large bowl.
- Pour over about ¾ of the dressing and toss the leaves until they are well coated. Top with the pancetta and croutons and slices or cubes of the chicken.
- Sprinkle over the remaining dressing and grated Parmesan. Grind over some black pepper. I couldn’t resist topping with some more Parmesan shavings.
Click here for a print friendly version – Smoked Chicken and Pancetta Caesar Salad – A Cookbook Collection