Nailing this misunderstood classic (no, we don’t want grilled chicken) is all about restraint and, yes, anchovies.
1) The Dressing: A great Caesar salad gets its swagger from a great dressing. Squeamish about raw egg yolks and anchovies? Sorry. Yolks are what give richness to the emulsion, while anchovies provide a briny blast (and that whole umami thing). Here’s our go-to recipe:
Chop together 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, 1 small garlic clove, and a pinch of kosher salt. Use the side of a knife blade to mash into a paste, then scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in 2 large egg yolks*, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard. Adding drop by drop to start, gradually whisk in 2 Tbsp. olive oil, then 1/2 cup vegetable oil; whisk until dressing is thick and glossy. Whisk in 3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Can be made 1 day ahead.
2) The Croutons: Make your own. Tearing, not cutting, the bread ensures nooks and crannies that catch the dressing and add texture. Toss 3 cups torn 1″ pieces country bread with 3 Tbsp. olive oil on a baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375 degrees, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes. If you’re into anchovies (we are), throw a couple of fillets on top before serving
3) The Lettuce: Use whole leaves from 3 romaine hearts to feed 6 people. They provide the ideal mix of crispness, surface area, and structure.
4) The Cheese: Caesars crowned with a mound of grated Parmesan may look impressive, but all that clumpy cheese mutes the dressing. Instead, use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave a modest amount on top for little salty bursts.
5) The Assembly: Skip the tongs. Use your hands to gently toss the lettuce, croutons, and dressing, then top off with the shaved Parm.
*Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.