Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Crispy Prosciutto & “Croutons on Demand” (Thermomix & Conventional Method)

Hail Caesar!! The world’s most popular salad has just turned 100!!

Created by Chef Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and restauranteur in Tijuana, Mexico in July 1924, the now famous Caesar Salad was created for a group of Americans that had travelled south of the border for a Fourth of July Celebration!
In an attempt to demonstrate the freshness and safety of the ingredients at a time when food safety in Mexico was a bit of a concern, Chef Caesar prepared the famous dish table-side from a trolley with a large wooden salad bowl and all the ingredients in full view of his patrons.
I can still remember visiting restaurants, while growing up in Canada, where the dish was prepared table-side at many fine dining establishments.
I loved the ceremony & theatre of having a dish prepared in front of you! From the transformation of egg yolk, oil and a hint of garlic whisked into a creamy emulsion with parmigiano cheese, mustard and a suggestion of anchovy, and then the tossing through of large fresh pieces of crunchy cos lettuce (“romaine lettuce” to my North American friends) to gently coat them. Finished off with crunchy croutons, crisped bacon pieces and some additional shaved parmigiano the dish has become a classic!
I tell my classes that everyone should have a good Caesar Salad Dressing recipe in their repertoire!
Here’s the one that I share with my clients, with some added twists including the crispiest & lightest “Croutons on Demand” as I call them, using  an Asian “savoury doughnut” called Yu Teow and served with Crispy Proscuitto Shards instead of bacon. To make it easier, we also use a good-quality whole egg mayonnaise rather then having to make your own “mayonnaise” with egg yolk & oil as Caesar did in his wooden salad bowl!
I also like to use the dressing to make a “Caesar Potato Salad” as the creamy, savoury dressing is perfect with potatoes or even to dip in with Crispy Potato Wedges or Fries!
Happy birthday Caesar Salad!! 

Recipe: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Crispy Proscuitto and “Croutons on Demand”

Nico’s Cookbook : p.50 “Food for Friends” – Buy Now

Everyone should have a Caesar Salad in their repertoire. I know a lot of people aren’t keen on anchovies, so in this recipe I’ve only used a small amount as a subtle flavouring for the dressing. If you really hate it you can leave it out but, strictly speaking, without anchovy it ceases to be a Caesar.

I’ve also given the classic recipe a little twist to “lighten” the salad by substituting crispy bacon bits with paper-thin slices of proscuitto roasted in the oven into crispy shards of saltiness and something I call “croutons on demand” using a savoury Chinese “doughnut” called “yu teow” (pronounced ‘yoo chow’) you can purchase frozen from most Asian supermarkets.

(Serves 8)

Caesar Dressing

3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
3 tablespoons (packed) grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup (80ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

4 pieces of Yu Teow*, diced up into 1cm thick slices (or make your own croutons with diced sourdough bread)
8 slices of proscuitto

8 small handfuls of cos lettuce, one handful per serve

3-4 chicken breasts, sliced in half widthways (ie butterflied)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to season

(* Yu Teow is an Asian fried bread that look like long doughnuts (or churros) and crisp up great when baked in the oven. It can be purchased frozen from most Asian Supermarkets. What I like about them is whenever you need some croutons for a salad or to put into a soup for a little crunch, simply take out what you need from the freezer, let them defrost for a minute or so so that you can cut them into little slices, then bake in the oven until crunchy & golden!!)

  1. To grill chicken, brush chicken breasts with oil and season. Place on a preheated BBQ plate or heavy based frypan and cook for 3-4 minutes each side. Remove from heat and let rest on a plate, covered with alfoil while preparing salad.

    (NICO’S TIP – Cutting the breast into two thinner pieces allows for ease of cooking the chicken breast to juicy perfection. You have more control in ensuring that it is cooked through without it drying out, as might happen with a thicker whole chicken breast.)

  2. To prepare dressing, if using a food processor, place all ingredients into bowl (except oil) and process until smooth. (If preparing by hand, mash anchovies until smooth in small bowl. Whisk in grated Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.)

  3. Gradually whisk in oil for a thick creamy dressing.

     (Thermomix – TM Method – Add garlic to bowl and chop –  4 sec | SP7. Scrape down sides and insert Butterfly then all ingredients (except oil) and whisk 1 min | SP4. Insert MC then slowly drizzle in oil (SP4) to create a thick creamy dressing.

  4. Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using. 

  5. For the “Croutons on Demand” – If using Yu Teow, toast in a 160C oven until golden brown about 8 minutes. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cool completely, then store airtight at room temperature.)

  6. If using bread, dice and spray with a little olive oil. Toast in a 160C oven until golden brown. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then store airtight at room temperature.) 

  7. For the Crispy Proscuitto Shards – Place paper-thin slices of proscuitto (find a good continental deli that knows how to slice smallgoods paper thin) on a baking paper-lined oven tray and cook in 180C oven until crispy (about 15-20 minutes), turning once. Drain on absorbent paper. Keep until ready to use.

  8. To assemble salad – Place cos lettuce into large bowl and gently toss through croutons and dressing, reserving a few tablespoons of the dressing to drizzle on grilled chicken. Divide dressed cos amongst plates. 

  9. Slice chicken and place on top of salad, drizzled with reserved dressing and place or crumble proscuitto on top. Serve immediately!

  10. Buon appetito!

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