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The Original Caesar Salad

The Original Caesar Salad

The Caesar salad originated in Tijuana, Mexico in 1924, more or less by accident. Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American, owned and operated Caesar's Hotel. It was during prohibition in the U.S., on the Fourth of July weekend. The hotel was packed with the usual tourists and Hollywood celebrities gambling, wining, and dining, like Clark Gable, W. C. Fields, and Carol Lombard. And Caesar ran out of food.

Caesar thought fast. He got a cart from the kitchen, put a big bowl on it, and, with a flourish, created this salad right in front of his patrons.

Word spread, and the salad became famous. Caesar and his daughter Rosa began bottling the dressing in Los Angeles in 1948, and it's still available in some markets. In 1953, in Paris, the International Society of Epicures named the salad as the "greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years". Caesar passed away in 1956.

Rosa and her father used to be amazed at the varieties of his salad people started making; blue cheese instead of Parmesan, vinegar instead of lemon juice, and anchovies -- where did that idea start?

And now, right here on Cooking Dude, is the recipe for you to make and enjoy at home. This recipe will serve four as a large first course, or 6-8 as a side salad.

The Original Caesar Salad

2 medium heads of Romaine lettuce, inner leaves only (save the outer dark green ones for another salad)
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated
2 coddled eggs (raw eggs, boiled one minute)
8-10 drops of Worcestershire
Juice from two medium lemons (about four tablespoons)
1/2 cup garlic-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup croutons

To coddle the eggs, carefully put them in boiling water. After one minute, drain the pot into the sink, and fill the pot with cold water. Rinse the eggs to cool them, and set them aside.

You can either make or buy the croutons. To flavor the oil, put one or two crushed garlic cloves in the oil and let it stand. (I keep an olive oil container separate from the others that permanently has garlic cloves and hot peppers marinating.)

You want the lettuce to be cold, dry, and crisp. If you rinse it, get it as dry as possible by using a salad spinner or paper towels.

In a big bowl, tear the leaves into two inch pieces, or whole small inner leaves. Pour the oil over, salt and pepper the lettuce, and toss several times to coat. Break the eggs into the salad, sprinkle with Worcestershire, add the lemon juice, and toss several more times to uniformly coat the lettuce with the dressing.

Add the Parmesan cheese and croutons, and serve. Now you know why Caesar got famous!


Copyright John P. Choisser - CookingDude.com 2005-2014