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Dinner Tonight: Ferran AdriĆ 's Caesar Salad

I had no idea what to expect when I cracked open Ferran Adria's recent cookbook, devoted not to the modernist, inventive cooking of El Bulli, but instead to an aspect of the restaurant that many people would overlook: the staff meal. The Family Meal, recently featured in our Cook the Book series, is a book mostly made up of universally-known comfort food, like barbecue and pasta bolognese, with the name of one of the world's most innovative chefs on the cover.

I started with a basic test: the Caesar salad. Though the recipe deviates from the authentic recipe from Tijuana (using Spain's ubiquitous sherry vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice), it's a delicious variation, and otherwise a pretty basic recipe centered around garlic and anchovies, like a proper Caesar dressing should be.

And indeed, the ingredient ratios and flavor were outstanding. Amazingly, though, the technique was wrong: rather than adding the oil last to create a creamy emulsion, the recipe says to add it first, so when the sherry vinegar goes in, the dressing breaks. Who knows what went wrong in translation (in scaling it down from huge quantities and going through a recipe-writer's revision) but I had to start over to get it right, and rewrote the order below. But it works now—and it's delicious.

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