Prep 20 mins
Cook 5 mins
I can personally attest to the authenicity of this recipe having had it made in front of me at Cardini's in Mexico City many moons ago. The recipe comes from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. Here are the notes that accompany it: "When Caesar Cardini first served his famous salad in the early 1920s, he used just the hearts of the romaine lettuce, the tender short leaves in the center, and he presented them whole. The salad was tossed and dressed, then arranged on each plate so that you could pick up a leaf by its short end and chew it down bit by bit, then pick up another. However, many customers didn't like to get their fingers covered with egg-and-cheese-and-garlic dressing, and he changed to the conventional torn leaf. Too bad, since the salad lost much of its individuality and drama. You can certainly serve it the original way at home — just provide your guests with plenty of big paper napkins. And plan to be extravagant."
- 18 -24 leaves romaine lettuce hearts, crisp narrow leaves from the hearts of 2 heads romaine lettuce (or a package romaine lettuce hearts ,about 1 pound)
- 1 cup plain toasted crouton
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 1⁄4 cup excellent olive oil
- 1 large egg
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 whole lemon, halved and seeded
- Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated imported parmigiano-reggiano cheese, only
- Preparing the salad components:.
- Special equipment:.
- A large mixing bowl, a small frying pan.
- You will probably need 2 large heads of romaine for 3 people — or use a commercially prepared package of "romaine hearts," if they appear fresh and fine. From a large head remove the outside leaves until you get down to the cone where the leaves are 4 to 7 inches in length — you'll want 6 to 8 of these leaves per serving. Separate the leaves and wash them carefully to keep them whole, roll them loosely in clean towels, and keep refrigerated until serving time. (Save the remains for other salads — fortunately, romaine keeps reasonably well under refrigeration.
- To flavor the croutons, crush the garlic clove with the flat of a chef's knife, sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and mince well. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil on the garlic and mash again with the knife, rubbing and pressing to make a soft purée.
- Scrape the purée into the frying pan, add another tablespoon of oil, and warm over low-medium heat. Add the croutons and toss for a minute or two to infuse them with the garlic oil, then remove from the heat. (For a milder garlic flavor, you can strain the purée though a small sieve into a pan before adding the extra croutons. Discard the bits of garlic.)
- To coddle the egg, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Pierce the large end of the egg with a pushpin to prevent cracking, then simmer for exactly 1 minute.
- Mixing and serving the Caesar:.
- Dress the salad just before serving. Have ready all the dressing ingredients and a salad fork and spoon for tossing.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the romaine leaves and toss to coat, lifting the leaves from the bottom and turning them towards you, so they tumble over like a wave. Sprinkle them with a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, toss once or twice, then add the lemon juice and several drops of the Worcestershire, and toss again. Taste for seasoning, and add more, if needed.
- Crack the egg and drop it right on the romaine leaves, then toss to break it up and coat the leaves. Sprinkle on the cheese, toss briefly, then add the croutons (and the garlicky bits in the pan, if you wish) and toss for the last time, just to mix them into the salad.
- Arrange 6 or more leaves in a single layer on individual plates, scatter the croutons all around, and serve.