If you were to ask Ploy which of my dishes is her favourite to eat, (and assuming you forced her to choose only from those options), then it would be Caesar salad. It was Canada that got her hooked on it; there is not a restaurant that does not offer it in some shape or form, and not a steak restaurant that doesn't attempt to make it by the side of your table; (why they do that I am unsure, I am paying for some experienced chef to cook my food, not a fourteen year old spotty cretin).
It was not long before Ploy cajoled me into making it myself, but I still bought the dressing and the bag of croutons; effectively I threw the lettuce in a bowl.
It must have been over a year of living here before Ploy came home with Romano lettuce. Smiling she handed me the bag and asked if I might make Caesar salad for her. But no ready made croutons to be found here, or Cardini's salad dressing, so I had to make it from scratch. Over the next two years I have made it for her many times, each time refining it for her (and my) tastes. So as a sharing person, and as I made it for her the other night on one of our few recent sit down meals together, here is the current recipe.
First I cook the bacon in some olive oil. Ploy likes the bacon crispy, but that is easier said than done with today's brine injected facsimile of smoked pig. But we have found some imported Canadian bacon which, when cooked, doesn't leek enough water to fill a child's swimming pool. In Canada we used pancetta. When the bacon is cooked reserve it on some tissue paper to remove the oil.
Add a little more oil to the same pan so you don't lose the bacon flavour. For the croutons I like to slice some French stick rather than make small cubes which can go soggy with the dressing. For each slice I wipe both sides with a garlic clove and then fry in the oil until crispy. Reserve on some tissue.
Now the dressing. I use three medium size egg yolks. If the eggs yolks run I don't use them. I add 5-6 cloves of coarsely chopped garlic, a good splash of Tabasco and a splash and bit of Worcestershire sauce, a little salt, lots of black pepper, some mustard powder, (I have tried using whole grain mustards but now stay with good old Coleman's), and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, (for the dressing the pre-grated stuff in those little boxes is fine). Mix together and then drizzle in the olive oil whilst still whisking until you get the consistency you want. Taste and tweak the ingredients.
Wash the lettuce, (necessary here as all sorts of wildlife can be found in vegetables from the market), and slice into ribbons. Put the lettuce in a bowl and mix with about half the dressing. Add a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (in Canada I would add slices of 'real' Parmesan), then the bacon, the remainder of the dressing, the slices of bread and finally a sprinkle of black pepper.
I always think a nice Chardonnay goes well with Caesar salad. But last night it was just water again as it is thrift month.
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