Of all the salads I could eat, this one is probably the most calorific. Yet I have a story…several years ago when I was living in Minnesota working for a Fortune 300 company, my husband retired and with me cooking all day, he decided he was going to make dinner during the week. Who was I to complain? I’d recently showed him how I make a Homemade Chicken Caesar Salad and, in true American form, he loved it. He proceeded to make different versions of it – bacon wrapped shrimp, steak, chicken and plain, every night for our dinner for the next few months. I’m not exagerating. Now I’d been trying (still trying) to lose weight so a Caesar salad might not seem the wisest choice but over the coming months I did lose weight, about 20 pounds. Needless to say I developed a fondness for this salad. And, although I’m sure the world doesn’t need another Caesar salad recipe, it’s getting one because here is mine…Jump to Recipe
A good Caesar salad starts with good ingredients of which, there are only few (if you count the dressing as one ingredient). Firstly, the lettuce has to be fresh and it needs to be soaked in iced water for awhile. Sometimes for me this is several hours, other times it’s just while I get the rest of the ingredients prepared. The cheese needs to be true Parmigiana Reggiano; most stores sell it and if they don’t do as I just did and order it online. The bacon needs to be smoked and cooked until it’s crispy. And traditionalists, I don’t care if authentic Caesar salad doesn’t or didn’t contain bacon – it goes in mine. The croutons can’t be those hard cubes from a packet that make my brain rattle, they need to be homemade. And the dressing – the final flourish – has to be made from scratch; bottled dressing has a place but I’m going to be bossy and say, its place isn’t here, in this salad.
Now I understand there are anchovyphobes as there are anchovy lovers, I’m the latter. The anchovies or anchovy paste, which ever you choose to use, does not give the dressing a fishy taste but instead a depth of flavor that few ingredients, aside from fish sauce, Vegemite, marmite and dried mushrooms, can add to a recipe. Although please don’t try adding Vegemite to this! You will address adding them or not as to how you see fit, but please don’t let a tiny little fish dissuade you from creating a Homemade Chicken Caesar Salad. Piled with some grilled chicken or steak is my favorite way to eat it but, my husband’s version of bacon-wrapped shrimp jockeys for first place occasionally. Toodles for now, Lovoni xo
HOMEMADE CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts, trimmed of the stem end or use 1 medium-size romaine lettuce, torn (cos lettuce)
- 6 strips bacon
- 2 to 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons sunflower or canola oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra
- A generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cubed rustic bread, such as sour dough or ciabatta
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 1/3 cup shaved parmesan
- 1/3 cup sunflower or canola oil
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets, optional
- 1 large egg yolk
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 garlic clove
- 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan
To make the dressing:
- Place all ingredients into a small blender (I use the small container of my Ninja blender. A stick blender also works but a blender gives a silky, voluminous texture to the dressing).
- Soak the torn lettuce in a large bowl of cold water until you’re ready to assemble the salad. Make sure to drain the lettuce well in a salad spinner or draining the lettuce and using paper towels or a tea towel to absorb the remaining water.
- Cook the bacon according to directions on the packet. I like to use the air-fryer: 4 strips (or 8 for a full-size drawer) 10 to 12 minutes on 400°F (200°C). Cut each strip of bacon into 3 to 4 pieces; set aside.
- Heat a grill or a griddle pan to medium. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 2 teaspoons of oil, salt and pepper together. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, turn and cook a further 5 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly while you finish assemble the salad.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic clove and cubed bread. Cook, for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread is golden-brown and crispy. Remove the croutons to a plate; discard the garlic.
- Whether you’re making one big salad or individual salads: add the lettuce to a serving bowl (or bowls), arrange the chicken over the lettuce. Top with bacon. Drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with croutons and drizzle with more dressing before topping with shaved parmesan.