It’s the only way to redeem the catastrophe of the Chicken Caesar. Wed it with pork belly that has been briefly cured, then gently poached in fat, cooled in fat, then sliced, breaded and deep-fried. I want to say it again: Pork belly confit, deep-fried. Oh, man it is soooo good.
Following what I think is an extraordinary thread of comments on the Caesar Salad in America, for which I want to express huge thanks to those who took the time to write and argue; all of you help me to know what I think and I hope think better, and I am grateful—I humbly introduce … The Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar. I didn’t do the croutons because of the crispy nature of the pork but Donna suggested that for a truly innovative interpretation, we might cut the pork into crouton shapes, dredge and deep fry so that the salad would have all the appearances of a traditional Caesar. I love this idea and encourage Chris Cosentino to put it on his menu at Incanto.
Because it has become fashionable, however, I have copyrighted this recipe, so he would owe me 10% of every order he takes. I do grant Applebees, TGIF, and Cheesecake Factory free use for one year.
Bread and deep fry the slabs of belly until they’re golden and crispy and the interior fat is molten.
Serve simply, on cold crisp romaine lightly dressed with a lemony yolky dressing and garnish with excellent cheese. The dressing should be very acidic to stand up to all the fat!
The Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar
For the dressing
- 5-6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 anchovies
- 1/4 cup fat from the confit, melted but cooled
- 1/2 cup canola oil
For the Pork:
- 1/2 pound pork belly confit* cut into half-inch slabs
- flour for dredging
- 2 eggs, uniformly mixed (no white visible)
- panko for dredging
- canola or vegetable oil for deep frying
- 10 ounces romaine lettuce
- For the dressing: Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender and blend, then slowly drizzle in the oil. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Heat the canola oil for deep frying. Dredge pork in flour, then in egg, then in panko. Deep fry till golden brown and crisp, and meltingly tender inside. Remove to a wrack and let them drain as you dress the salad.
- Toss whole or cut leaves of romaine with the dressing. Lay fried pork belly on top. Drizzle additional dressing on top if desired. Garnish with freshly grated reggiano (and anchovies if you love them). Deliver it to your nearest Cheesecake Factory.
[*For easy confited pork belly: salt a slab of belly aggressively and season it with quatre epice and smashed garlic overnight, then cover it in fat and cook at 170 degrees F for 10 hours. Allow it to cool then refrigerate till completely chilled.]