Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Chicken Caesar Salad

Garlic Croutons

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced fine or pressed through garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups 3/4-inch bread cubes from 1 baguette or country loaf

Broiled Chicken Breasts

  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt or 3 tablespoons table salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
  • ground black pepper

Caesar Dressing

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium clove of garlic , minced fine or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 4 anchovy fillets (flat), minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 2 medium heads of romaine lettuce (large outer leaves removed) or 2 large romaine hearts; washed, dried, and torn into 1 1/2-inch pices (about 10 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. For the croutons: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix garlic, salt, and oil in small bowl; let stand 20 minutes to infuse flavors, then pour through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Spread bread cubes in even layer on rimmed baking sheet; bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool croutons on baking sheet to room temperature. (Can be covered and stored at room temperature up to 24 hours.)

2. For the chicken: Dissolve salt and sugar in 11/2 quarts cold water in gallon-sized zipper-lock bag or plastic container. Add chicken and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes until fully seasoned. Remove chicken from brine, dry thoroughly with paper towels, and season with pepper.

3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (should be about 6 inches away from heating element) and heat broiler. Spray broiler pan top lightly with nonstick cooking spray and position over pan bottom. Place chicken on pan; broil until spotty brown and firm to the touch, about 8 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

4. For the dressing: Bring 2 inches water to boil in small saucepan over high heat. Lower eggs into water and cook 45 seconds; remove with slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, crack eggs open; reserve yolks in small bowl and discard whites. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, garlic, and anchovies to yolks; whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, add oil in slow, steady stream. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be refrigerated in airtight container up to 1 day; shake before using.)

5. To finish the salad: In large bowl, toss lettuce, Parmesan, and about two-thirds of dressing to coat; divide evenly among individual plates. Remove tenderloins from chicken breasts; place in bowl used to dress lettuce, along with remaining dressing. Cut chicken breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, add to bowl, and toss to coat. Divide dressed chicken evenly among plates, arranging slices on lettuce. Sprinkle each plate with a portion of croutons and serve immediately.

For efficiency, several components of the salad can be prepared at the same time. Start by preparing the flavored oil for the croutons. While the oil infuses, prepare the brine and brine the chicken. Once the chicken is brining, finish the croutons and prepare the dressing. If you follow these steps, all the components will be ready to come together when the chicken is cooked. Or, if you prefer to work in advance, both the croutons and the dressing can be made one day ahead.

from Cooks Illustrated

Yield: 4 servings

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