I like to pride myself on my caesar salad. I take it quite seriously actually, well, as seriously as you can take a salad. I love to make my own dressing and bake my own croutons. My boyfriend will grill up some chicken breast and we're good to go. Up until now I thought I had a pretty good thing going. That is until I tried Jamie Oliver's version from Jamie at Home.
I have to tell you, I'm starting to get a little peeved off by Jamie Oliver. No, I'm just kidding, I've never loved him more! I know I keep going on about it but the recipes in this book are so incredible. I mean really, why on earth would anyone use dry, boring chicken breast in a chicken caeser salad? Not when you can roast juicy chicken legs topped with pancetta over bread. By placing the pancetta and chicken over torn up bread, the bread soaks up all of the roast drippings and it turns into crispy croutons. It's genius!
I really thought I had it down but after tasting this salad, I realize I had never been more wrong. This, my friends, is how you do it. Like every other Jamie Oliver recipe I've tried thus far, It's so simple and so good.
RECIPE: (courtesy of Jamie at Home and the Food Network:)
4 whole free-range or organic chicken legs, skin on
1 loaf ciabatta bread (about 9 ounces), torn into thumb-sized pieces
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices pancetta or bacon
1/4 clove peeled garlic
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a few shavings to serve
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche
1 lemon, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 or 3 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place the chicken legs in a snug-fitting roasting pan with the pieces of torn-up bread. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is well coated, then lift the chicken legs up to the top, so they sit above the bread. Pop the pan into the preheated oven.
After 45 minutes the chicken should be nicely cooked. Take the pan out of the oven, drape the pancetta or bacon over the chicken and croutons, and put back for another 15 to 20 minutes for everything to crisp up. The chicken legs are ready when you can pinch the meat off the bone easily. When they're cooked, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for the chicken to cool down slightly.
Pound the garlic and anchovy fillets in a pestle and mortar until you have a pulp. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, lemon juice and 3 times as much extra-virgin olive oil as lemon juice. Season dressing, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Pull the chicken meat off the leg bones - you can use 2 forks to do this, or your hands and tear it up roughly with the croutons and the bacon. Wash, spin dry and separate the lettuce leaves, tear them up and toss with the chicken, croutons, bacon and creamy, cheesy dressing. Scatter with some Parmesan shavings.