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:
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.