Ever wish you could eat at New York City’s legendary Le Cirque every night? We sure do, but thankfully (for our wallets) we received a copy of A Table At Le Cirque and have been cooking our way through ever since. First up, a Caesar salad by former executive chef Pierre Schaelelin. It’s so good, De Niro orders it ahead of time.
“I have to tell you at the time I wasn’t really happy about making a Caesar salad,” Schaedelin admits. “That’s why I made it a bit fancier than the original. But looking back, it’s a great dish.” Instead of tossing romaine leaves with an egg-rich dressing, cheese, and croutons, he meticulously layers rectangles of lettuce brushed with the pungent dressing and grated Parmesan and serves an egg fried in a round crouton (aka toad in the hole) on the side. Robert De Niro liked it so much he always called ahead to order one for himself and his wife. Schaedelin’s elegant Caesar salad is still a favorite.
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 romaine lettuce hearts, leaves separated
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and sliced crosswise in half, then lengthwise in half
- small parsley sprigs, for garnishing
- 4 slices firm white bread
- 4 large eggs
- flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- dash of worcestershire sauce
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a spoon, skim off the foam. Pour the remaining butter into a bowl, leaving behind the whitish milk solids at the bottom; discard the milk solids.
- Make the Caesar dressing: In a blender, purée the egg yolk with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, garlic and shallot. With the machine on, slowly add the oil. Pulse in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stack four piles of 5 lettuce leaves and trim to 5- to 6-inch rectangles. For each salad, arrange a leaf on one side of a plate and, using a pastry brush, spread with the dressing. Sprinkle with cheese. Continue layering the lettuce, dressing and cheese, finishing with a sprinkling of cheese. Garnish with 2 anchovy strips and parsley sprigs.
- Using a 4- to 5-inch round pastry cutter, stamp the bread slices into rounds. Using a 2- to 3-inch round pastry cutter, stamp out a hole in each round. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the clarified butter over high heat.
- Add the bread rings and cook over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the rings, break 1 egg into each, and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the egg toasts to paper towels.
- Set an egg toast next to the salad and season with flaky salt and pepper. Serve, passing the remaining dressing separately.
Check out these Italian salad recipes on Food Republic: