I’ve been mis-spelling Caesar in my brain and, a couple of times, in writing as Cesar. I wish to reassure everyone that I have not made, and will not be making, dog food salad any time soon. Instead, I made a delicious and healthy chicken Caesar salad for tea last night, and it was most good. Especially when accompanied by a large gin, and followed by two more…
I’m not a great fan of salad as a rule, but I’d had a heavy lunch yesterday, what with canteen fish and chips sometimes being nigh on impossible to resist, and didn’t have much appetite for the planned curry. I fancied something light and Caesar salad fit the bill (see how often I am typing it now, just to prove that I really can spell it properly?). Originally I was going to buy cooked chicken and a bottle of salad dressing, to make it easy, but I rebelled against myself and bought raw ingredients instead. On a slight side note, I was glad to find myself wanting to cook from scratch; as may have been clear, I’ve been really uninspired by my own cooking lately, and had a good dose of writers block to boot, so it was encouraging to find that I was up for making something that I could potentially blog about afterwards. I have plenty of Things of Beauty to catch up on too so maybe this will be the first step back to writers block recovery. I do hope so, I get quite grumpy if I’m not enjoying my food. More grumpy than usual, I mean.
So, to come back to the Tale of Salad, I bought a pack of chicken thighs (free range, of course), a granary baguette to make croutons, some baby gem lettuce (I know, it should have been Romaine, but there wasn’t any), a cucumber, some gorgeous little Dolce Rosso tomatoes and a load of ingredients for the salad dressing (I’ll get round to those in a minute).The first thing I did was get the chicken in to roast; the oven went on at 200C and I removed the skin from the chicken, placed on some tinfoil and salted on both sides (doing a nifty flipping over manoeuvre with the tinfoil so I didn’t have to wash my hands *again*) then parcelled up all neatly, and put straight on the oven shelf for half an hour. Then I turned my attention to the salad dressing, which went as follows:
- 2 anchovy fillets (from a tin, which I was amazed to find in Morrisons for 75p)
- 3 1/2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- 1 very small clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 75g plain, fat-free yogurt
- salt and pepper
To make the dressing, I put all the ingredients bar the yogurt, salt and pepper into a blender and processed until smooth. Then I added the yogurt and processed until mixed, then tasted and seasoned as necessary. It really didn’t need much salt, what with the anchovies and parmesan, but a little bit helped bring the flavours together.
Who needs to buy a jar of dressing full of weird preservatives and stabilisers and other stuff, right? Right.
The last thing to prepare before assembling the salad were the croutons. I cut a few thick slices of the baguette, then cut each slice into eight small wedges. I put these in a baking tray, drizzled lightly with olive oil, added a pinch of salt then tossed to coat the bread completely. When the chicken was finished in the oven, I removed it and turned the oven off, but put the bread in for three or four minutes to crisp up – much longer than that would have made them too crunchy and we’d have had the kind of situation where you try to spear a crouton with your fork and it goes pinging across the room. While that’s high in comedy value, it gets quite wearing after the first few times, as you grow increasingly hungry and increasingly desperate to eat the ruddy crouton…
So, the chicken was cooked – I opened up just one side of the tinfoil parcel to drain out the fat, and definitely did *not* get chicken fat all down my trouser leg and on the kitchen floor while I was about it. Then I set it aside with the parcel open while I put the rest of the salad together. I chopped the lettuce, made cucumber batons and halved the tiny tomatoes, then mixed these by hand in a big bowl. I removed the chicken from the bone and cut into strips, without being too particular about shape or size; however the chicken wanted to come apart was OK by me, I just made sure none of the bits were too big. I mixed the chicken in with the salad, tossed the croutons through and served up, adding a drizzle (OK, a pour) of dressing and some parmesan shavings to the top.
That is all the story of my first Caesar (I can still spell it) salad, and I must say I really enjoyed it. It was just what I wanted, very light and summery, even if the weather here in Scotland isn’t really playing along… I do intend to get back to more regular blogging from now, and I was pleased to find a few forgotten food pictures in my camera today so I have some subjects to cover. In the meantime, thanks for still checking in, and here is a final picture of the delicious, non-dog food salad.