Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blackened Chicken Caesar Salads

Caesar salad is one of the tastiest, richest, and easiest salads you can put together. The dressing is where the flavor is, and the simplest traditional ingredients include egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Dijon mustard and anchovies became common additions, and topping the salad with slices of meat or seafood turn the Caesar into dinner.

Here, I added quickly seared lean chicken breast, blackened with aromatic spices in very little oil. A cast-iron skillet and high temperature do the trick. Skip the bagged croutons and make your own—easy and better tasting, especially with garlic.

Note: I used a raw egg yolk for this dish, as I often do for Caesar dressing or aioli. For information on using raw yolks and pasteurizing an egg, see Pan-Grilled Chicken Caesar Salads with Garlic Bread. 

Serves 2

  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 5-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 3/4-inch thick
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 large fresh egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small head of romaine lettuce, chopped (5-6 cups)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • garlic croutons, for serving (recipe below) 
Dressing Ingredients and Cheese
  1. Combine 1 teaspoon black pepper, chile powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken breasts and let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and brush with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and sear 4 minutes on one side. Turn and sear 3-4 minutes longer, until the chicken is blackened and just cooked through. 
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
Spice-Rubbed Chicken 
Chicken Beginning to Sear 
Blackened Chicken
Sliced Chicken
  1. Whisk the egg yolk in a large bowl. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce and whisk well to combine. Gradually whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the lettuce and sliced chicken to the bowl. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss to combine the salad and dressing.  
To serve, divide between 2 plates and top with garlic croutons (recipe below).

Blackened Chicken Caesar Salads
Garlic Croutons
  • 1 cup sourdough or country-style bread cubes, about 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, coarsely chopped
  1. Place the bread cubes in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the garlic and use your fingers to gently massage the bread cubes with it. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat a toaster oven to 375° F. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the bread cubes on it, discarding any loose garlic pieces.
  3. Bake until golden brown and slightly crunchy, turning once, 9-10 minutes, depending on your toaster oven. Remove and cool to room temperature before topping the salads.
Cut Croutons
Drizzle with Oil 
Rub with Garlic
Croutons Ready to Bake 
Baked Croutons

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