Caesar salad is still today my favourite salad. It has richness from the eggs and oil, sharpness from the delicious parmigiano reggiano cheese and that incredible umami flavour from the anchovies and raw garlic. A caesar salad is the perfect accompaniment to a good steak and great opener to any respectable meal. This is my ultimate recipe for my favourite salad in the world.
Cristian Constant Caesar Salad
When I was 16, my job at the local steakhouse was slinging hundreds of caesar salads in frozen bowls to accompany the hundreds of steaks we would crank out each night. We made the dressing from scratch and I thought we had the best caesar salad in the world. But I was naive.
Upon moving to Paris and trying the Caesar at “Les Cocottes de Cristian Constant” I was instantly mistaken.
Situated in Paris, Cristian Constant’s restaurant serves old-school french dishes in heavy cast iron “cocottes” that are comforting but not over-complicated. If you ever get the chance to go, order the caesar salad. You won’t be disappointed.
Served in a french cast-iron dish, this salad was ultimately crispy, cold and perfectly dressed. It’s served with crunchy brioche croutons, hard boiled eggs and perfectly soft poached chicken. It’s so so so delicious!
The Perfect Caesar
Sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to visit Cristian Constant’s restaurant in Paris, but this recipe should hit the spot when you’ve got that craving for a proper caesar salad. Although no recipe is quite perfect, I’m pretty confident with this one and have tweaked this recipe over the years to near perfection.
The best caesar salad must contain these ingredients: romaine, croutons, bacon, parmigiano cheese, lemon and anchovies. Hard boiled eggs and chicken is a nice addition but I’d personally have it without.
Another key step is to make the dressing with fresh egg yolks rather than a store-bought mayonnaise. If you’re in a rush for a weeknight meal than store-bought mayonnaise is okay but the real deal demands fresh eggs yolks emulsified with oil.
I know some people are turned off by anchovies because of their strong flavour, but this is a must in a good caesar salad. When used correctly you will not notice any fishy taste but an incredible umami flavour throughout the dressing.
Yes this recipe calls for raw eggs which is technically dangerous. Although all raw foods are technically dangerous, raw eggs have a small potential for salmonella. Don’t try this if you have a weakened immune system, pregnant or breast-feeding. The dressing must also be kept cold at all times (this is why I use an ice cube in the recipe) and used within 3 days. With that being said most farmed eggs today are very clean and this isn’t really a problem for most people. If you feel weird about raw eggs you can buy pasteurized egg yolks or use store-bought mayonnaise and add the rest of the ingredients to it.
Tips for the best caesar
- Soak the romaine lettuce in ice water to crisp up the lettuce
- Use anchovies for the umami flavour
- Make the dressing from scratch with fresh raw eggs
- Use parmigiano reggiano cheese – the real deal
- Chill the salad bowls in the fridge or freezer to keep the salad extra cold
- Loads and loads of fresh cracked black pepper on top
- Keep it simple, it’s a classic for a reason
Salad Spinner – You need this for a good salad otherwise the lettuce will not dried properly and the dressing will be watered down.
Food Processor – You don’t need this but it will save a lot of time. You can also use a blender or whisk by hand and purée the garlic and anchovies with a knife.
Microplane – If you don’t have one of these yet I highly recommend it. I use them all the time for fresh citrus zest, grating big spices, cheeses and purées of garlic or ginger.
- salad spinner
- Large mixing bowl
- Food processor with a spout for slowly adding oil
- 2 heads romaine lettuce small
- 100 g bacon
- 60 g parmigiano reggiano cheese grated
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ice water
For the dressing
- 2 egg yolks large and as fresh as possible
- 75 ml olive oil
- 75 ml peanut oil or any other neutral oil
- 1 clove garlic small clove or ½ large clove, grated
- 2 pieces anchovies
- 1 tsp mustard dijon or english mustard
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 4 dashes tabasco
- 1 tbsp parmigiano reggiano cheese grated
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 ice cube
- ½ tsp sea salt
- lots fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 slices bread use your favourite bread, stale is better
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp celery salt
- ⅛ tsp oregano dried
- Cut and wash the lettuce. Remove the core, dark ends of the lettuce and slice into bite size pieces. Soak the cut lettuce in ice water and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
- Cook the bacon in the pan slowly with the tsp of olive oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels and save the pan with the bacon fat.
- Cut the bread into tiny squares and cook on low heat in the bacon fat.
- Once the croutons are nicely browned and toasted, add all the spices and toss around. Season with a little sprinkle of salt. Dry on paper towel.
- Add the egg yolk, mustard, grated garlic, anchovies, tabasco, soy sauce, black pepper and the ice cube to the food processor. Blend on low speed while adding the oil slowly at the same time. The sauce should be thick like mayonnaise. Finish with fresh lemon juice and the grated cheese. Taste for seasoning.
- Dry in a salad spinner. Cut the crispy bacon into small pieces. Assemble the dressing, grated cheese, croutons and bacon and lettuce.
- Add two big spoons of dressing to the lettuce with the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a spoon. Add more dressing if you like but the most important step is that everything is properly mixed.
- Plate in a chilled bowl and finish with extra cheese and fresh cracked black pepper. Enjoy on its own or with a nice steak.
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