Caesar Salad Dressing
September 5, 2009 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Why I can't find an awesome Caesar Salad Dressing recipe? They all suck!

So lately I've tried a number of homemade Caesar Salad Dressing recipes, and while one or two have been okay, on the whole they're far from the spectacular thing I've had at some restaurants. I love love love a great Caesar Salad, and being unable to replicate one at home is making me mad. I've tried recipes from How to Cook Everything, the Gourmet cookbook, America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Alton Brown's Good Eats, and a couple others that I can't recall. And none is spectacular dammit!

The romaine is fresh. I dry it to the max with a salad spinner, then put it back in the fridge for a little while. I don't over-toss the salad with the dressing. Etc. So that stuff's not an issue.

I'm convinced that the bomb diggity Caesar Dressings have a lot of stuff in it -- that is, not just olive oil, lemon juice, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and an egg or two, like the original ones had or whatever. There must be some Worcestershire, Dijon, garlic, buttermilk, anchovies or anchovy paste, and stuff like that. But I've tried ones with all that stuff, darnit, and the shit is not happenin'! Maybe the proportions need to be adjusted, but that's where I'd need your help.

So, please, if you know an aweeeesome Caesar Salad Dressing recipe -- not just a good one, an awweeeessomee one -- please, would you share it with me? I'll be so happy. Thanks!
posted by frankly mister to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a specific recipe, but one thing that can help with salad dressings is to steep the oil. I mean, mince the garlic, put it in the olive oil with a bit of pepper, and leave it overnight. A lot of times people "underprepare" their food, and you might be getting an unexpected flavor (or you might be missing a flavor you expect) because your recipes don't allow for that.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:50 PM on September 5, 2009

I've had the Caesar prepared table-side at the Hotel Caesar in Tijuana where it was supposedly invented and it kind of sucked so I think you're right about foregoing the original. Lately I've been making the dressing recipe I found in Real Simple and it's quite good.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:54 PM on September 5, 2009

My favorite Caesars have garlic, whole chopped anchovies (not the paste!) and a hint of Dijon.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:55 PM on September 5, 2009

The Smitten Kitchen recipe is, to my mind, perfect caesar dressing flavor. It has Dijon, Worcestershire, lemon juice, garlic--just enough that you wonder how it's all going to fit together, but then it just... works.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2009

Anchovies are (as far as I understand it) a pretty essential part of the caesar dressing. Minced, paste, or (my fave) whole and laid over the top.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:01 PM on September 5, 2009

Hmmm...Wikipedia says I am wrong, wrong, wrong. Whatever. I <3 me some anchovies.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:04 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like mine tangy! So into the blender goes:
3 cloves peeled garlic
6-8 (or more) anchovy filets
1 tsp (or more) mustard powder
2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Start giving this a whirl, and slowly pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil as you are blending. Makes enough to dress 2 heads of romaine.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:12 PM on September 5, 2009

If you're going to use mustard powder, the most recent issue of Cooks Illustrated advises allowing it to "bloom" - that is, put some in a little bowl, add some water, let it rest - so that the full flavor of it comes through.
posted by rtha at 8:57 PM on September 5, 2009

The Pioneer Woman just recently posted a Ceasar salad recipe. Might not be your style (she uses mayonnaise as a base) but I've made a lot of her recipes, even with skepticism, and they're always a big hit.
posted by kerning at 9:00 PM on September 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

I follow the Joy of Cooking, more or less. However, only use the raw egg yolk, not the whole egg. I give the raw egg white to the dog.
posted by timeistight at 9:14 PM on September 5, 2009

Most commercial dressings have cheese in them. Try blending the cheese into your dressing?

I don't know, I sometimes go for the Cook's Illustrated version (egg yolk, lemon juice, a dash of Worcestershire, garlic, olive oil, mustard, S&P and a squirt of anchovy paste), but I always go back to Caesar Cardini's in a bottle. It's just what I like best, damn it. It's exactly what I'm picturing in my head when I'm thinking of perfect Caesar salad.
posted by padraigin at 11:34 PM on September 5, 2009

The Seizure Salad recipe from The Surreal Gourmet is awesome, with instructions to mash the dressing all together right in your salad bowl.
posted by slightlybewildered at 12:43 AM on September 6, 2009

I like the Cook's recipe, but add grated parm to the dressing to give it additional body and flavor, in addition to the shredded or shaved parm on top.

For me, that gives it that unhealthy deliciousness that in the really traditional recipes is overshadded by lemon egginess, which is not delicious, except in conjunction with a crazy amount of fat (as in hollandaise.)

So my answer: cheese on top of the cheese.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:07 AM on September 6, 2009

Could you perhaps be more specific about what the flavour is lacking? Compare with one that you have loved. It's kind of a shot in the dark for us to propose recipes, else.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:25 AM on September 6, 2009

I'd look to New Orleans for a recipe. I'd start with Paul Prudhomme, but I can't find anything online. Emeril's recipes are often problematic but these two recipes look like reasonable places to start.

My favourite Caesars are quite spicy and sharp. Fresh garlic is essential, as is mustard and anchovy and really good cheese.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on September 6, 2009

Here's the pioneer woman's other recipe which does use olive oil as a base.
posted by kylej at 10:12 AM on September 6, 2009

I love good Caesar dressing. This is a recipe I concocted from several found on the web and some good old-fashioned trial and error. Works for me. YMMV.

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 raw egg
1 tin anchovies, drained
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender and blend well, then add olive oil gradually. Add a little water and blend again if it needs thinning.
posted by Work to Live at 8:33 AM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

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