Chicken Club Caesar Salad

Chicken Club Caesar Salad

Last week I realized that  I need to re-think my approach to Meatless Mondays. I usually don’t jump on bandwagons especially when it comes to my food, but Meatless Mondays sounded like an intriguing challenge.

I made Caesar salad for a friend’s bridal shower luncheon–a salad I hadn’t made in almost a year. The guests at the shower loved the salad so I tought it would be fun to serve it for dinner later that evening.

My family wasn’t amused and Caesar salad for dinner didn’t go over too well. We ate our salads in record time, and our stomachs were still hollow and growling. All eyes were on me to come up with something else.

Chicken breast and bacon are always on hand at my house so I prepared them as quickly as possible. I tossed the meat in the remaining salad which transformed it from an appetizer to an entree. My men were happy and we were finally full.

I learned that Meatless Mondays sounds like a good idea but in reality it’s not if lettuce and croutons are the only items on the menu.

FYI: Check out my new classes at Carolina Learning Connection.

Chicken Club Caesar Salad adapted from Lidia Bastianich and Ina Garten
Makes 4 entree serving

1/2 large French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 (4-5 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large heads Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus shaved parmesan for serving

Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
8 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 large hard-boiled egg yolks or 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.  Bake, tossing them twice, until crisp and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool completely. Keep oven on.

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Cook the bacon in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until crisp and the fat has rendered, about 7 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat, discard the rest.

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Wipe the skillet out with paper towels.  Heat 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Season the breast with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook 1 additional minute.

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Place the chicken in the oven until cooked through, but still juicy, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil and rest for 5 to 7 minutes. Slice the chicken.

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Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies, mustard, yolk (or mayonnaise), salt, pepper and Worcestershire in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until smooth. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until thick and creamy. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and pulse 3 times.

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Toss the salad with enough dressing  to moisten well.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and toss with the croutons, bacon and tomatoes.

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Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and serve at room temperature.

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