Another post. Another salad. This time its a reinterpretation of the good old fashioned classic. Caesar Salad. I used to make this all the time. In the nineties that is. Before children. Not having eaten Caesar Salad in a very long time I had forgotten how good it can be. Properly executed. With fresh ingredients. A complete meal in a bowl.
For me the key to a great Caesar salad is a good home-made dressing. With anchovies. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea but they impart such a gorgeous, piquant flavour punch. Once blitzed with egg, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil their presence is disguised. You’ll have to trust me on this. My guinea pigs were my daughters. With a known aversion to anything anchovy they lapped this up and proclaimed it absolutely delicious.
Dressing sorted. The traditional components of a classic Caesar? Crisp cos or romaine lettuce. Toasted croutons. Shaved Parmesan. In my version I have added shards of maple roasted bacon and shreds of tender poached chicken. Another recipe that is infinitely adaptable. To the contents of your larder. And perhaps the idiosyncrasies of your taste buds.
Caesar Salad With Poached Chicken and Maple Roasted Bacon.
For the Salad
2 baby cos or romaine lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
1/2 cup (40 g) parmesan cheese, shaved
½ x 56 g can anchovy fillets, drained (optional)
8 rashers short cut bacon, rind removed
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
4 slices ciabatta bread, roughly torn into 2 cm pieces
2 (400g) chicken breast fillets
aromatics for poaching chicken breasts – e.g. ginger, spring onions, sea salt and whole peppercorns.
For the Dressing
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ x 56g can anchovy fillets, drained
¾ cup (180 ml) olive oil
To Prepare the Components
PREHEAT oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
BRUSH bacon rashers with maple syrup. Transfer to a baking paper lined oven tray and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until crisp and lightyly caramelised. Cool and break into shards.
MEANWHILE tear bread into chunks; place on a lined oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil, toss well. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp and browned lightly. Cool.
POACH the chicken. Place chicken in a shallow pan. Cover with cold water. Add any aromatics – I like to use a thumb sized piece of ginger, a couple of spring onions, sea salt and a sprinkling of whole peppercorns. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until almost cooked through. Remove pan from heat. Stand for 5 minutes. Remove chicken from poaching liquid. Cool. Shred.
PREPARE the dressing. Blend or process egg, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and anchovies until smooth. Slowly add oil in a thin stream while motor is operating, blend until thick. Season to taste.
To Assemble the Salad
IN A separate bowl toss the lettuce leaves with half the dressing.
DIVIDE the dressed leaves between four large bowls or plates.
TOP with baked ciabatta bread croutons, shredded poached chicken and shards of maple roasted bacon.
SCATTER with shaved parmesan and roughly torn anchovies (if using).
SERVE with extra Caesar salad dressing on the side.