What makes a perfect caesar salad? Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry shares his recipe.
Chef Thomas Keller
I’m sure this information will elicit about as little sympathy from you as it did from my coworkers, but still: My husband loves to cook. And he’s pretty damn good at it. Over the years his repertoire has evolved from smash burgers and cacio e pepe to crepes and cassoulet. But even in our highly active kitchen stadium, we find that some dishes are best left to the pros.
At the top of the “Just Tastes Better at a Restaurant” list: Caesar Salad. Probably one of the most commonly featured menu items in the country, it seems so simple. It is not. And so, I reached out Thomas Keller to see if he can help out with my latest lunch al desko request. Herewith, chef Thomas Keller’s Classic Caesar Salad. Bonus points if my chef (er, husband) comes through with tableside preparation.
1 large garlic clove, peeled, root removed
Pinch Maldon salt
1 egg yolk, chalazae removed with tweezer
11⁄4 ounces anchovy paste (see recipe)
3 ounces vinaigrette base (see recipe)
6 ounces romaine lettuce hearts, cut into 11⁄2" pieces, washed, dried and chilled
1 ounce country bread croutons (see recipe)
2⁄3 ounce parmesan crisps (see recipe)
Parmesan cheese, for grating Black pepper, in mill
1 ounce oil-cured anchovies, drained
1 ounce boquerones (marinated white anchovies), drained
1 ounce parmesan cheese, finely grated on a Microplane
1 ounce roasted garlic (remove top of garlic heads, drizzle with canola oil) wrap in foil and bake in 350°F oven until golden brown and soft. Squeeze garlic from skins)
1⁄2 ounce Dijon mustard
1 ounce water
1⁄3 ounce kosher salt
1⁄4 ounce raw garlic clove, peeled, root removed
• Combine all of the ingredients in a small blender and puree until very smooth. You will need to scrape down the sides of the blender jar a few times with a small rubber spatula while pureeing.
• Alternatively, this paste may be prepared in a heavy mortar and pestle.
• This recipe may be prepared ahead of time. Store any leftover anchovy paste in a small, airtight container inside the freezer and reserve for future use.
21⁄4 ounces extra virgin olive oil (select a soft, buttery variety)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
11⁄4 teaspoons Banyuls vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces rustic sourdough bread, crust removed (gluten-free bread may be used)
3 tablespoons light olive oil Kosher salt
11⁄2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon all purpose (or gluten-free) flour
To help chef Keller’s staff impacted by the pandemic, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group set up the Keller Restaurant Relief Fund. All of the proceeds go toward aiding workers in California, New York, Las Vegas and Miami with housing, medical expenses, care for the elderly and children and other basic needs.
Photography by: Deborah Jones