There are some things that I don’t bother to make at home. Either because of the amount of time it takes to make and the store version is acceptable (puff pastry) or because it is not worth the effort and the home version will never be as good as its original. So whenever I want something that I feel can’t be duplicated in a home kitchen I have to purchase it from a reputable source.
Lucky for me, its a short list. There aren’t too many things that I won’t attempt to make at least once. The aforementioned puff pastry came out buttery and flaky as ever when I made it at home. And the next time I have hours to devote to the kneading, folding and turning of pounds of butter into copious amounts of flour I will make it again. Until then I”ll buy a good brand from the supermarket.
I cannot say the same about caesar dressing. There is no version (homemade or store bought) that can replace the impression made on me by an exceptionable caesar dressing. I can’t remember where I had it. I just know the memory of the taste is what I use to measure all other caesar dressings. Which, time after time have proven inferior. So I don’t bother trying to duplicate it at home and rather than face dissapointment, I rarely order caesar salad in restaurants.
People have given me recipes that have gone untouched and eventually lost. I was not a believer. That is until I was given a recipe by a co-worker, that was given to her by another co-worker.
SIDEBAR- I work, part time, at this amazing cookware and specialty foods store-Williams Sonoma. It’s almost like being inserted into the pages of my favorite cooking magazine for a few hours a week. I’m surrounded by food, talk about food, cook food and eat (too much) food and work with women who share the same interest and passion about food. So when one of them recommends something or says something is good I take their word for it, no questions asked.
Sandy, my co-worker didn’t just say this recipe was good she said it was the best caesar dressing ever and she made it so much she was able to give me the recipe from memory.
There’s a reason why this recipe is different from others. It has to do with a hairy little fish. The Anchovy. In the past recipes would omit anchovies in a caesar dressing recipe or recommend worcestershire sauce in place of them, because lots of people dislike anchovies. I am telling you that leaving it out is a mistake. It is part of what contributes to the complex flavor of a really great caesar dressing. Anchovies add a savory quality known as umami to foods. A sort of meaty, saltiness. You can taste it in foods like, parmesan cheese, mushrooms and red wine. When anchovies are added to foods, whether in paste form or fillets you barely notice them. You just know that what you are eating has a certain something about it that makes it taste good. And a teensy bit goes a long way. I could sit here all day extolling the virtues of a tiny, hairy, pungent smelling fish. But I won’t-if you don’t like tiny, hairy, pungent smelling fish it won’t make a difference. I can only tell you that if you leave it out of this recipe you will be sorely dissapointed. So don’t do it.
I had some chicken breasts lying around so I marinated them in olive oil with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice and some dijon mustard, then pan sauteed them and made a chicken caesar sandwich. But I was just as happy scooping up the dressing with leaves of romaine lettuce.
RECIPE: Caesar Dressing- Given to me by Sandy who got it from Deanne. Thanks Ladies!
For best flavor use quality ingredients. This will hold about 3-5 days in the fridge. The flavor blooms after the first day.
1 cup of Hellmans mayonnaise
2 cloves of garlic, minced and mashed or grated on a microplane or small holes on a box grater
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon of anchovy paste (add gradually to your taste)
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2-3 teaspoons Grey Poupon dijon mustard
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
a little water to thin out if necessary
In a medium bowl add mayonnaise. Add the remaining ingredients (except salt and pepper) one at a time tasting as you do to notice the flavor that each ingredient brings to the dressing. Add more or less to your taste. When all ingredients are mixed in add salt and pepper. Add water a tablespoon at a time to thin out if required.
The good thing about this recipe is the next time you make it you can adjust it to your taste. Add more or less garlic, add more lemon juice. You can even add more anchovies!