Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bacon Chicken Caesar Salad

There's few things that don't go well with bacon. And though bacon has become something of an epidemic in the U.S. finding it's way into just about everything you can imagine, spreading from the brunch plate into desserts such as brownies and ice cream, I try to keep it under control in my own cooking. Seriously though, bacon in salad is delicious. And if you disagree, this salad is still delicious without it.

This recipe might seem a bit  labor intensive and indeed it might feel like it is the first time you make it. Once you've made it a couple of times, it becomes a simple weeknight dinner that becomes almost second nature to create. Enjoy.

Taste in Bloom Original Photo
Difficulty: Easy; Serves: 4-6 Total time: 45 minutes

Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons, strained
  • 1/4 - 1/2 loaf of good quality white bread: Italian, French, Sourdough, etc.
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • seasoned salt
  • 2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped (optional - I omitted them)
  • 8 chicken tenderloins
  • 4-8 slices of bacon (4 slices if you want to use a ratio of half bacon to chicken)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 lb romaine lettuce hearts


For the croutons: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the bread into slices. Slice each piece lengthwise in half or quarters to make strips. Cut each strip into bite-size pieces. Put the pieces into a mixing bowl.

Mince one of the garlic cloves with a little salt and add it to the bread pieces. Sprinkle bread pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and toss it to coat the bread pieces evenly.

Spread the coated bread pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet (works really well lined with parchment paper). Bake for 12-15 minutes, tossing about halfway through baking time, until golden. Allow to cool.

For the Bacon Chicken

Rinse the chicken tenderloins and pat dry with paper towels. Season one side with seasoned salt and black pepper. Wrap each tenderloin with a strip of bacon.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Place tenders, seasoned side down, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Turn each tender over and cook the other side for an additional 6 minutes. Drain off the fat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, slice the tenderloins into bite-size pieces.

For the salad and dressing: 

Pull apart the romaine lettuce leaves and slice them crosswise into 1-inch ribbons. Wash and dry the lettuce ribbons and put them into a large mixing bowl.

In a blender, combine the freshly squeezed lemon juice, mayonnaise, freshly grated Parmesan, anchovy fillets (if using), and the remaining garlic clove. Blend until smooth. 

If you are making the salad ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator, see note before proceeding.

Once the chicken and croutons have cooled, toss them with the lettuce and dressing until thoroughly combined. Top with freshly sliced or grated Parmesan and season with more salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. 

* Note: If you are storing the salad in the refrigerator before consuming, allow the chicken and dressing to come to room temperature before tossing it with the romaine lettuce ribbons and croutons. Allow the croutons to sit at room temperature, sealed in a container or plastic bag, so they do not become soggy. 

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