One of my favorite salads and one that I usually request when dining out is Caesar Salad. I remember dining at a couple of restaurants in New York City where they made the Caesar Salad table side with such flair and showmanship. Now you are lucky if they make the dressing from scratch.
I have found several great cooking videos that show you how to make a great Caesar Salad at home and have posted them at the end of the page. These videos will give you step by step instructions for making the dressing and putting it all together but first a little history....
History of the Caesar Salad
This popular dish was originally created in 1924 by Italian chef Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico and was prepared and served right at the table. If you have never experienced "the show" that goes with table side presentation, you don't know what you missed. What an opportunity for a waiter to show off his stuff, mixing and whisking to the delight of the patrons.
For those of you who are not fans of anchovies, you may be interested in knowing the original recipe for this salad did not include them. So when the waiter asks if you want anchovies on your Caesar Salad, tell him, " No, I prefer Chef Cardini's original recipe."
What About Those Raw Eggs?
Although some recipes use a raw egg, a coddled egg will give the dressing a smoother, creamier texture. How does the Reluctant Gourmet coddle an egg? Easy, bring a small pot of water to fast boil and gently place the egg into it and cook for 60 seconds. Remove the egg from the water and cool off under cold water to stop the cooking process.
You can buy a variety of bottled Caesar Salad dressings in your grocery store even one that has an photo of Chef Cardini on it, but none are as good as making it yourself.
The recipe below is not Cardini's original recipe but one that was given to me by a chef in New York City. You can also buy a variety of commercial croutons, but I highly recommend making your own. It's easy and the taste is far better than any crouton you can purchase. You can store the croutons in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day.