Thomas Keller’s Caesar Salad

This is a long one, my edits are in italics. RTFM…

Ingredients

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled, root removed
  • Pinch Maldon salt (or coarse sea salt)
  • 1 egg yolk, chalazae removed with tweezer
    • Each of two twisted membranous strips joining the yolk to the ends of the shell.
  • 1 ¼ ounces anchovy paste (recipe below)
  • 3 ounces vinaigrette base (recipe below)
  • 6 ounces romaine lettuce hearts, cut into 11/2″ pieces, washed, dried and chilled
  • 1 ounce country bread croutons (recipe below)
  • 2/3 ounce parmesan crisps (recipe below)
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating
  • Black pepper, in mill

Instructions

  1. Set a damp linen towel down in a 6″ ring on a flat surface and place the bottom of the wooden salad bowl inside of it. This will help secure the bowl when preparing the salad.
  2. Pour the vinaigrette base into the small pitcher or creamer (It is OK if this is not emulsified).
  3. Place all the other components of the salad in individual small ramekins and dishes appropriate to their size or volume.
  4. To begin preparing the salad, add a pinch of Maldon salt and the garlic clove to the base of the bowl.
  5. Use the dinner fork to lightly crush the garlic clove against the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Pierce the garlic with the fork and rub the interior of the bowl well with the garlic and salt. This will season the bowl and release the aromas and flavors of the garlic.
  7. Remove and discard the garlic clove.
  8. Place the egg yolk into the base of the bowl and spoon the anchovy paste next to the yolk.
  9. Hold one of the salad spoons in your strong hand like a pencil and with the other, hold the pitcher of vinaigrette base. (personally, I prefer a roux-whisk)
  10. Begin vigorously stirring the yolk and anchovy paste together.
  11. While continuously stirring, slowly stream the vinaigrette base into the yolk/anchovy mixture in order to form an emulsion.
    • The key is to pour slow and stir quickly. You may have to stop streaming the vinaigrette intermittently in order to maintain the emulsion.
    • Once all the vinaigrette has been incorporated you should have a thick creamy emulsified dressing.
  12. Add the romaine lettuce and toss in the dressing until the leaves are coated.
  13. Add the country bread croutons and the parmesan crisps and gently toss a few times.
  14. Season the salad with freshly ground black pepper and grate a generous amount of parmesan cheese into the salad using a Microplane.
  15. Gently toss a few more times to distribute the components.
  16. Plate salad in chilled bowls (good habit to get into for service of guests: refrigerate “cold” plates and keep “warm” plates in a 120-140F oven prior to service)

Anchovy Paste Recipe

  • 1 ounce oil-cured anchovies, drained
  • 1 ounce boquerones (marinated white anchovies), drained
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, finely grated on a Microplane
  • 1 ounce roasted garlic (remove top of garlic heads, drizzle with canola oil) wrap in foil and bake in 350°F oven until golden brown and soft. Squeeze garlic from skins)
  • 1/2 ounce Dijon mustard
  • 1 ounce water
  • 1/3 ounce kosher salt
  • 1/4 ounce raw garlic clove, peeled, root removed

Directions

  1. 1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small blender and puree until very smooth. You will need to scrape down the sides of the blender jar a few times with a small rubber spatula while pureeing.
  2. 2. Alternatively, this paste may be prepared in a heavy mortar and pestle.
  3. 3. This recipe may be prepared ahead of time. Store any leftover anchovy paste in a small, airtight container inside the freezer and reserve for future use.

Vinaigrette Base Recipe

  • 2 1/4 ounces extra virgin olive oil (select a soft, buttery variety I recommend Arbequina)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  • 1. Combine all ingredients, they do not have to be mixed or emulsified.
  • 2. Store at room temperature.

Country Bread Croutons Recipe

  • 2 ounces rustic sourdough bread such as Pain de Campagne, crust removed (gluten-free bread may be used. – But I won’t respect you. J/K, if you have celiac’s I totally understand.)
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil (Arbequina here, too)
  • Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F.
  2. While the oven is heating, tear the bread into small bite-sized pieces (about 5/8″) into a small mixing bowl.
  3. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the bread.
  4. Season the bread lightly with kosher salt.
  5. Toss the bread gently to evenly coat all the pieces.
  6. Transfer the bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the oven checking after 15 minutes. Continue baking, checking about every five minutes until the croutons are a rich golden brown color and crisp.
  8. Remove from oven and cool.
  9. This recipe may be prepared in advance and stored at room temperature in a small airtight container.

Parmesan Crisps Recipe

  • 45 grams parmesan cheese, finely grated on a Microplane
  • 1 teaspoon all purpose (or gluten-free) flour

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
  3. Grate the parmesan into a small mixing bowl. It is best to grate the cheese at the last minute so that it maintains its moisture and melts together well.
  4. Toss the cheese with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese onto the mat into a small circle that is about 3/16″ thick (the cheese will not cover the entire surface of the mat and the shape is not very important).
  6. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven.
  7. Check after about seven minutes for a thin sheet of melted cheese that has a deep, uniform golden color. Continue checking every couple of minutes until this is achieved.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool.
  9. Break the sheet of crisp parmesan into small bite-sized pieces.
  10. This recipe may be prepared in advance and stored at room temperature in a small airtight container.

This is one of the very few times you’ll see me listing a recipe, for a freaking salad. But for Thomas Keller, I make an exception. If you’re serious about cooking, study him. This guy is a god among mortals.

Love, Jimi

Personal Notes

  • Keep in mind, this is Thomas-Fucking-Keller. So you may not have access to regular and white anchovies, or Maldon salt, or tweezers for the chalazae. But I wanted to keep the recipe intact for educational purposes.
  • Boquerones/White Sardine: not salty and have a much milder taste than traditional anchovies. Do not double the regular anchovies as a substitute, they are are way too strong.
  • I mean, is it really necessary to remove the chalazae? Not terribly.
  • Also while we’re on the eggs: I would highly recommend you use pasteurized eggs, unless you have top-shelf sourcing like Keller. Like, you could probably find the chicken he got that egg from and eat its entire ass and not get sick (thanks for that, my appetite is shot to hell now).
  • Dressing: For the sake of shelf-stability, you could use lecithin or powdered egg yolks as the emulsifier and bottle it for later. Worst-case, use mustard powder, but it will affect the flavor. You can use egg-based store-bought mayonnaise as well, a couple tablespoons should do it.
  • Buy the goddamned Microplane already.

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