So, we’ve had a bit of a tradition for N’s birthday the past couple of years. We go to one of the nice steakhouses in the city and enjoy a luxurious meal. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic a restaurant was not an option, so steakhouse dinner at home it was.
Our favourite thing to try at a steakhouse (besides the steak) is always the Caesar salad. A Caesar salad made from scratch tossed tableside is the BEST. I’ve been working on variations of a steakhouse Caesar salad recipe for a few months now, and this birthday dinner gave me the chance to finally perfect my recipe (Yay!). There is absolutely no comparing this dressing to the kind you buy at the grocery store, they are not in the same league. I promise you, once you try this dressing you will never buy another bottle of Caesar dressing again. The ingredients are super simple and I always have them in my fridge. The recipe doubles very well, if you need to serve more than two people, or want to make a little extra.
There was more to the meal than the Caesar salad, of course. We also had steak and baked potatoes. We bought steaks at our local butcher Vince Gasparro’s. When you’re cooking steak, go for the good stuff. Spend a little bit more, it’s so worth it. And, supporting local business is always a win in my books (especially right now). What’s your favourite cut of steak? Comment below and let me know.
There was also dessert. I have not disclosed this yet on the blog, but people, I am not a baker! It’s just not what I do, it does not bring me joy. Luckily, we have an amazing bakery very close to us Bakerbots Baking, so N still got his birthday (cup)cake (and one for me too!). If you live near this spot and have never tried it, their cinnamon buns are out of this world. We have them on Saturday mornings with coffee as a treat.
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the salad:
- 1 heart of romaine
- 2 strips of good quality thicker cut bacon (I also buy this from the butcher)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 egg yolk
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1.5 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- olive oil
- 1/4 baguette
For everything else:
- 2 steaks (I used a NY strip and a California cut), each was around 1.5 inches thick
- 2 springs each fresh rosemary and thyme
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 russet baking potatoes
- sour cream
- olive oil
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
A couple little notes about the ingredients
About the cheese; I always have some type of hard, salty Italian cheese in my fridge, it’s an essential ingredient in my kitchen. I rotate between Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano, any one of these three cheeses works perfectly in this salad. Make sure you are buying the real thing, it’s really important to use quality of cheese in this salad. Whatever you buy should be stamped DOP (Denominazione d’ Origine Protetta), which translates to Protected Designation of Origin. The DOP stamp ensures you are purchasing a high quality Italian made product that has met rigorous testing standards.
About the steak; if you have a favourite cut of steak, use it, just adjust the cooking time as required.
Adjust the racks in your oven so both racks are as close to the center as possible. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the steaks out of the fridge so they can come to room temperature.
Place the two potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub with olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper; put in the oven, top center rack. They will take about 45-60 minutes, depending on the oven.
Line another baking sheet with tinfoil, place two slices of bacon on the sheet. Place in oven, lower center rack. Cook for appropriately 15-20 minutes, until crisp. This is my preferred method to cook bacon (super easy clean up – you just need to take the foil off the sheet and throw it away – no messy grease to deal with). If you like to cook bacon in a pan, totally fine too. When the bacon is cooked, remove and place between two paper towels to absorb any excess grease. Put aside until you are ready to assemble the salad.
Start to make the croutons. Cut the baguette into bit size pieces, drizzle with olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Place in pan and slowly cook over low to medium heat, turning regularly until all sides are nicely toasted and browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place to the side.
Begin to assemble the dressing. Mince the garlic (I like to use a garlic press), add it to a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper). Use the back of a spoon to combine them together. Add the egg yolk (make sure it’s well separated from the white of the egg). Add the Tabasco, Worcestershire, red wine vinegar and lemon. Whisk the ingredients together. Once they are well combined, slowly (very slowly) begin to drizzle in the olive oil. Keep whisking to emulsify. If it starts to separate, stop adding oil and whisk to re-emulsify. When the dressing is ready it will look like this. See how you can draw a line through it, and it doesn’t immediately close up on itself, that’s what you want.
Keep the dressing in the bowl and place to the side. By this time, your potatoes should be done (or close to it). You should be able to easily pierce through the foil and potato with a knife when they are cooked. If they are done, turn off the oven and leave them in there until you are ready to serve.
Time to start the steak. Heat a pan on high. I am using a grill pan, but a regular pan or cast iron would also work. Pat both sides of the steak with paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy with the salt, use a good amount, it really helps bring out the flavour of the beef. Place the steaks in the hot pan. For a nice medium rare, cook for three minutes on each side, only flipping once. After the first three minutes, flip the steak, add the butter, whole clove of garlic, and the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Baste the steaks with the melted butter.
When the steaks are cooked, remove them from the pan and let rest on a plate while you assemble the salad. Add 3/4 of the cheese into the dressing, combine. Cut the bacon into pieces, add the bacon and croutons. Cut the romaine into pieces, add to the bowl. Add the remaining cheese, and a bit more freshly cracked pepper. Toss everything together.
Take the potatoes out of the oven, slice along the top of each potato making a little pocket. Add some butter, sour cream and chopped chives. Place on the plate with the steak.
Serve the salad on the side and enjoy the meal with a nice, full bodied red wine.