The perfect chicken caesar salad
- July 2012
- Serves 4-6
- Takes 25 mins to make, 60 mins to cook
Caesar salad makes a wonderful midweek meal and is also great for no-fuss entertaining. You can prepare it all in advance, then assemble it when you’re ready to serve. Donal Skehan’s simple recipe will show you just how easy it is.
We’ve also got a garlicky chicken caesar salad too, if you fancy a bit of garlic oomph.
- 28.2g (5.5g saturated)
- 17.5g (1.5g sugars)
For 6 servings
- 1.2kg free-range chicken
- 5 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Handful of fresh mixed herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and basil (optional)
- 2 chunky slices of sourdough bread (about 200g), cut into 2cm chunks
- 4 smoked streaky bacon rashers, sliced into chunky strips
- 1 cos (romaine) lettuce, washed, dried and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
For the dressing
- 4 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
- 1-2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
- A good handful (30g) of parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Put the chicken in a large roasting tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the rapeseed oil. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper. If you have herbs in the garden, put a handful inside the chicken to boost the flavour. Roast for about 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.
- In a separate roasting tray, toss the bread with another 2 tbsp of the rapeseed oil and season well. Toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the chicken and croutons are cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. In a food processor, whizz together the ingredients for the dressing (see tip if you’re not using shop-bought mayo). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Loosen with a little water if too thick – you should be left with a slightly thick, creamy dressing with a good citrussy kick from the lemon juice.
- Heat the remaining rapeseed oil in a medium non-stick frying pan, then fry the bacon over a medium-high heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest and cool slightly, then tear the meat from the bones into rough shreds. You will only need about half of it, so save the rest in the fridge for the next day.
- To assemble the salad, toss the pieces of lettuce in a large salad bowl with as much dressing as you like, the shredded chicken, the bacon and croutons. Serve with a generous grating of parmesan and a final grinding of black pepper. It’s my absolute favourite salad, with guaranteed savoury deliciousness in every bite!
The anchovies give this dressing a wonderful salty savoury tang. If you haven’t come across a caesar dressing recipe before, anchovies might seem odd but, really, don’t skimp on them – they add a fantastic depth of flavour.
I make sourdough croutons because I like the taste, but you could use a baguette or any chunky bread – just make sure it’s not too stale or the cubes will turn rock hard after toasting.
For a true caesar salad, cos lettuce (also called romaine) is the chief leaf. It’s got a great crunch and provides much-needed refreshment among the other salty ingredients.
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