Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Proper Chicken Caesar Salad- The Naked Chef Way

This past weekend I was watching the Food Network, as usual, and Jamie Oliver made a Chicken Caesar Salad. He was outside, as he always is with his new show, and he "chucked" some chicken legs in his outdoor fire pit that were dressed with olive oil and rosemary and laid over a bed of broken up bread.
About 40 minutes into the roasting process, at 400F, he laid some pancetta over the chicken legs and stuck it in the oven/outdoor heat box thingy for another 20 minutes. I decided on prosciutto, in my dabbling with the meats again prosciutto seems less scary than pancetta in a totally irrational way (I know!). I was giggling to myself while I was making this because when I took the chicken out of the oven to layer the prosciutto over it I had just jumped out of the shower. So i was literally the Naked Chef. Thank god no one can see inside my kitchen! Amateurs be warned, coking while naked can lead to pain. I have a little scar on my stomach from some errant oil that once jumped out of a pan while I was stirring between a shower and getting dressed.
As this was stirring about in the oven, I made a homemade Caesar dressing. Now I know that traditional Caesar begins with a raw egg yolk, but Jamie's called for Creme Fraiche, which I was happy to use. I mashed up 4 anchovies with a clove of garlic. Jamie used a mortar and pestle which would have been lovely since I attempted to scrape the two together on my cutting board to mediocre results. I stuck this in a jar that I use to shake up dressing and added the juice of one lemon, a heaping spoonful of creme fraiche, 3x the olive oil as there was lemon juice, a heap of parmesan cheese, and some salt and pepper. I shook it all up vigorously and... Eh, the creme fraiche was too apparent in the flavors. So I added a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and some dijon mustard. And then it was perfect!

I chopped up a ton of Romaine and then went to town on the chicken. Actually, what really happened was a bit more complex. At this point I needed to transfer this entire project over to John's house. He was working from home, putting in another 12 hour day, and I said I would bring over dinner, as well as organize it so we could have lunch the next day. So I placed enough Romaine in a large bowl to feed two dinners and two lunches, grabbed some Tupperware for lunches, and placed it all in a grocery bag. Then I grabbed my chicken dish with some pot holders and a kitchen towel and set the hot plate onto the floor of the passenger seat of the car. I kept it uncovered because I knew that it would be better if the chicken, croutons, and prosciutto were more warm instead of piping hot. I drove over to John's house, carefully, and then reset myself in his kitchen.
I shredded some of the chicken using two forks (but really mostly my hands) and crumbled up some of the prosciutto. The croutons were incredible as well. Almost TOO rich! Well, I suppose that they had sucked up olive oil and chicken drippings for about an hour in the oven.

John and I ate this for dinner on Monday night and then lunch on Tuesday. I liked it a little better warm than cold the next day, but it was tasty either way. We both laughed that our co-workers must have hated us with our anchovy/garlic breath. Oh well!

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