Hail, Caesar

Dinner:  May 30, 2008

I love a good Caesar salad, which for me pretty much requires a homemade dressing with garlic and anchovy and fresh egg yolks, but as others have pointed out, main dish Caesars topped with grilled chicken or shrimp can be pretty boring. I spotted this recipe in Bon Appetit recently and fell in love with the idea of topping a Caesar with egg rather than mixing it into the dressing, but I wanted a dish with a little more oomph. I remembered the tub of Mike’s pork belly confit we still had in the fridge, and it seemed like just the thing: I’d do a “bacon and egg” Caesar – a little Bon Appetit, a little Ruhlman, a whole lotta yum.

I had Mike pull the confit out of the fridge in the afternoon and cut some crouton-like chunks for me, and when I got home from work, I prepped the romaine, whizzed up a dressing (lots of garlic, anchovies, sea salt, fresh lemon juice and our best olive oil), and set up my breading station:

After a dip in flour, beaten egg, and panko, I carefully lowered the cubes into some very hot fat – in this case, some of Mike’s rendered leaf lard. When the cubes were golden brown, they came out of the fat and onto a paper towel to drain.

I went back and forth about how I’d do the eggs for this dish, but settled on sunny-side up for cosmetic reasons. I cracked two eggs into a pan with lots of butter, put a lid on and let them cook gently until the whites were just set, then I took a ring mold and very carefully cut out little rounds. I held my breath as I moved them from pan to plate, and happily, I didn’t destroy either one.

I finished the plated salads with shards of Parmagiano Reggiano and plenty of freshly ground pepper. And then we got to the best part:

forkful

Yes, friends, breaded and deep fried pork belly confit is every bit as good as you’d think, and on a Caesar, it’s stellar.

10 thoughts on “Hail, Caesar

  1. Aaaaaaaaargh. Yum.

    The picture of the forkful is masterful in its manipulative qualities: musteatfriedpork bellybitswithegggarliccheeseandromainenow…

    I think Heston Blumenthal may have approved, too, you know, of the bacon and egg thing…

  2. Cheryl Harris says:

    Caesar salad is a major favorite of mine. Back in the late 80s, when I was stuck home from work for several weeks due to illness, it became an obsession of mine to perfect a Caesar dressing. If I may be permitted to suggest an option, I have found that soaking the garlic cloves overnight in the oil really adds quite a bit to the dressing. I also add a bit of dried mustard to the recipe.

    But yours looks really tremendous and yummy. Has me contemplating blowing the dust off my recipe next weekend.

  3. Your eggs are so cute and perfect. This would be a fantastic salad to serve at a dinner party. Everybody loves a little pork belly (or well, at least everybody who comes to my house for dinner!)

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