Our take on the classic Caesar salad will spoil you for all others. The secret? Brushing the romaine leaves with pancetta fat and then grilling them for a few seconds. It gives the salad a warm, smoky flavour. And, yes, you’re reading the recipe correctly: we call for ten anchovy fillets in the dressing. Fear not.
- 8 slices pancetta (1/8-inch/3 mm slices)
- head romaine
- 8 slices baguette
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) shaved Parmesan
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 10 anchovy fillets (salt- or oil-packed)
- juice of 2 lemons, plus more to taste
- 1 cup (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- splash of water
- freshly cracked pepper
- Place the egg yolk, garlic, anchovies, and lemon juice and some black pepper into a mini food processor, and process until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. The dressing should be well emulsified and taste tangy and creamy. Add more lemon if not tangy enough, or water or more olive oil if too acidic.
- Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).
- Line a large plate with paper towels. Place the pancetta on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly crisp and golden but still slightly soft. Drain on the paper towels, and set aside. Pour the pan drippings into a small saucepan and set aside.
- Heat the saucepan of pancetta drippings over low heat. Brush the cut sides of the romaine with the pancetta drippings, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Preheat the grill to high, then clean and oil the grill grates.
- Have ready a plate and the clove of garlic for the crostini. Grill the bead slices until lightly toasted to a golden brown on both sides. Remove from the grill and immediately rub both sides of the bread with the garlic clove. Drizzle with the olive oil. Set aside.
- Grill the romaine on a cut side down for just 30 seconds, just to get some deep char marks. Turn the romaine and grill on another side just to finish heating it through, about 10 seconds.
- Place a wedge of grilled romaine on each serving plate, and drizzle with some dressing. Top each wedge with Parmesan, 2 pancetta slices, 1 lemon wedge, and 2 crostini.
- Serve immediately.