One of the most enjoyable culinary events that can take place when you go out to eat at a very nice restaurant is when they are capable of making an authentic Caesar salad at your table.
It seems almost magical to me, the way they whisk the raw egg yolks, add the oil and emulsify the anchovies. It’s just fun to watch a skilled person do it in front of you. Mind you, it’s a delicious salad as well, especially when made fresh.
I’m just as guilty as anyone for taking shortcuts. I’m speaking specifically about buying the bagged Caesar salad at the supermarket — dressing, Parmesan cheese, romaine lettuce and croutons. Instant and easy satisfaction. But recently I found some very nice prime beef filets on sale. I decided to grill them and serve them with a Caesar salad and creamed spinach.
I decided I wanted to make a homemade Caesar salad, so in the interest of safety, I began looking for pasteurized eggs. No luck. I Googled it, and guess what? You can pasteurize your own eggs at home, and the sous vide that I got for Christmas is the perfect tool to do it with.
The process of pasteurizing an egg is to bring the egg up to 140 degrees, which is warm enough to kill all the salmonella that may be lurking without cooking the egg. So I plopped three eggs in a pot and brought the water temperature up to 140 degrees with the sous vide and let the eggs stay in there for a couple of minutes once at 140. The eggs were already at room temperature, so as long as they were in the water from the beginning I knew that once the water hit 140 degrees, they would be right there too. I then plunged them into ice water, and voila, pasteurized eggs! I made my own croutons as well. Give this a try!
Making the croutons was quite easy. I had whole wheat hamburger buns that I tore into pieces.
A sturdier bread is recommended, but this is what we had on hand. I placed them on a cookie sheet and sprayed them with canola oil spray. I then sprinkled them with kosher salt, coarsely ground black pepper and granulated garlic. I placed them in the oven, which was preheated at 400 degrees, and within 8 to 9 minutes we had crunchy and freshly toasted croutons.
CAESAR SALAD INGREDIENTS
Two romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
2 to 3 pasteurized egg yolks
4 canned anchovy fillets in oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved Parmesan cheese
I wasn’t going to be fancy with this dressing and whisk away. I simply put all ingredients other than the lettuce, cheese and oil in a food processor. I hit the button a few times until everything was mixed and smooth. I then slowly added the oil and I pulsated, which binds the oil to the other ingredients in the dressing. Once all oil was added I simply drizzled it over the lettuce and mixed with my hands. We added the cheese and croutons and there you have it, fresh (and safe) Caesar salad!
Dave Lobeck is a financial advisor by day and a BBQ enthusiast on nights and weekends. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) judge. You can contact Dave with your BBQ and grilling questions at www.BBQ-My-Way.com