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.

The recipe is very simple, especially if you have some belly confit lying around with skin.  Here’s the mise en place:
Caesar_mise_2

Bread and deep fry the slabs of belly until they’re golden and crispy and the interior fat is molten.

Caesar_fry

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!

Caesar_plate

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.]

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72 Wonderful responses to “Introducing…THE Chicken Fried Pork Belly Caesar”

  • Sandy

    Just had this at Chez Ruhlman last night. An ingenious app. Thin boat of a Romaine with a perfectly fried large crouton of pork belly confit atop a delectable dollop of the caesar dressing. A down to earth, clever showstopper. Thanks Michael!

  • BobBobberson

    If loving this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. You, Mr. Ruhlman, are my new BFF.

  • Mark

    If you’re going to spice up a Caesar salad, maybe we should call it a “Brutus” instead…

  • Claudia

    Vinotas, any time you want to go to Momo’s, just let me know. I think the FDA has established a Minimum Daily Requirement for the pork belly buns. It’s definitely in MY food pyramid!

  • d

    love you!!!!! i used to make pork belly BLTs for staff meal. crisp up the belly in the oven. slice some heirlooms from our favorite local gardener, butter lettuce, hellman’s mayo & wonder bread. (sometimes avocados if i was in a really good mood.)
    fuck yeah.

  • Vinotas

    Ooooh, pork belly, Momofuku’s is just amazing. It’s 8:38am and I’m already drooling… I might have to do something foolish for my waistline (not to mention arteries) today.
    Cheers!

  • Heidi the Food Yenta

    Anything deep fried to that texture has to be amazing, Frances. I’m with you.

  • Frances

    I saw that wiki entry the other day. I couldn’t help but notice that the original salad had no anchovy, just what was imparted by the worcestershire sauce. :)

  • Heidi the Food Yenta

    I actually thought this was a parody. It’s not, right?

  • Frances

    I don’t think it’s a parody. Though deep-fried confit of fat *seems* wrong on so many levels. :D

    I’d like to try it with just the cripy outside stuff though. Lots of it.

  • Claudia

    Oh. Dear. God. Ruhlman, I’m supposed to be packing to fly to a funeral, and you hit me with Crispy Pork Belly Caesar. This means an emergency run to Momofuku’s, home of the legendary pork belly steam buns. RIGHT now. (For posting that recipe, I will even try to overlook your reference to NYC as Helltown in your on the road posts, only because I know she is like your dark mistress – you want to hate her, you want to stay away from her evil, her decadence, her total corruption, sure . . . but we have pork belly, Prune, the Spotted Pig, Blue Ribbon, Momufuku and, yes, Bourdain, so I know we had YOU at hello. Admit it. What happened in NY all those times before – and obviously still happens for you – stays in NY. So what if Bourdain has video.)

    So, what’s next – the soy-lacquered pork belly crepe glazed with nouc nam, and – oh, wait! I better copyright!

  • Ves

    Wow… way to take a salad and add about 2500 calories and 100 grams of fat to it… hot damn!

  • Erin

    God. Ohhhhhh god. I read the original Chicken Caesar blog on the day it was posted, and I can’t believe I let my *JOB* sidetrack me away from reading the Pork Belly Gloriousness of this one.

  • ruhlman

    my error, sorry. it should read, salt a slab of pork belly. yes give the pork belly an aggressive coating of salt. You can even dredge it in salt, but then rinse it before cooking it.

  • Oswulf

    For the benefit of non-US English speakers, could someone please explain what the following means, please?

    “For easy confited pork belly: salt pork a slab of belly”

    Does it mean simply to sprinkle salt over a piece of belly pork?

  • Shannon

    Heck with naming it the Marc Anthony, I think the Brutus is much more fitting. Deep fried pork belly is deserving of a Brute name, thus chopping the Caesar down from its throne!

  • JunkyPOS

    K… I have to say…I DO enjoy my ceasar when I grill a nice medium rare steak. Something about hat does it for me. I agree that the chain ceasars whether chicken or otherwise are lacking in both substance and flavor from my experience. Someone mentioned Cardini????…..that is my bottled dressing of choice (for Ceasar) however immoral it may be to use a bottled dressing. ;)

    I would love to try Ruhlman’s variation on this classic.

    On a side note…. did any see ABourdain on Zimmerman’s NY show??? I found it Ok…but much more scripted than I expected.

    Also on a side note….what about the new Top Chef season. I just got done watching another one of the newer episodes. Fuck the cooking. What about PADMA. Is she like one of the hottttttest or what. Something about her now that we know Salmon (sp) is no longer in the picture makes her even more sexy.

    ahhhhhhhhhhhh…foood porn…soooooooooooo sue ME!!!!!!!

    …my apologies

  • Tammi

    The link on Pork-Belly tater tots didnt work for me. I was able to type it in however omitting “typepad” from the link

  • Qoheleth

    Anchovies blended into the dressing is not sufficient. A proper Caesar salad should have anchovy filets on it. Removal of whole anchovy filets from the Caesar was the start of the slippery slope which ended up as the abominable chicken Caesar salad.

  • The Purple Afghani

    Correction: Wells discussed how copyrights *could* apply to recipes, not how they actually apply. Copyright law does not yet allow recipes or ingredient lists to be copyrighted.

    I must read more thoroughly to be worthy to run my mouth about something!

    Bah.

    Pardon me while I go back down into the dirt hole I sprouted from . . . .

  • The Purple Afghani

    This savory pork belly caesar recipe is certainly fit to be added to Mr. Cosentino’s menu.

    But could it actually earn Ruhlman a copyright?

    Yeah.

    At first, I didn’t think it was possible.

    Peter Wells’ article (see Ruhlman’s link above) shows that copyright law involves “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”

    I will not regurgitate Wells’ discussion, but it illustrates how copyrights actually apply to recipes.

    I did not realize this. Recipes seem to function as intangible formulas, which cannot be copyrighted. But now I know better. Recipes are not static and reflect the creative and unique thoughts and approaches of each person who writes a recipe, i.e. a chef’s original recipe becomes a tangible expression in fixed dish form.

    So, Ruhlman, copyright away.

  • SMU grg

    I just thought of your next book title: “Joking Yourself Into a Genius!”. I will be eating this salad on my deathbed…at 41.

  • Hillary

    Haha wow – I think I thought you were kidding in the last entry! Too funny! Looks good even though I don’t eat pork.

  • emily

    In my humble experience, I have found that making a dressing (or mayo/aioli) with 100% olive oil can create an overpowering flavor in the finished product. I might use half olive and half canola (or grapeseed – my favorite) so as not to overwhelm the pig fat and lemon flavors.

    Of course, 1/2 cup oil is not very much, so in this case it might not make a big difference after all. I’ll bet red pepper flakes would be good in there too…

  • Raoul Duke

    Is it possible to substitute the canola oil in the dressing with olive oil?

  • JaxieWaxieWoo

    Yeah, but back to the other part of the CCS post, is there a cheesecake version of this recipe? I gotta have it…

  • eat4fun

    The pork I can eat… I don’t know about the salad.

    I never heard of making your own salad dressing with anchovies and raw eggs?!?! It has to come out of a bottle… Even Caesar Cardini’s dressing comes from a bottle. ;-)

  • Big Red

    I just made this for lunch and it was fantastic. I was out of lemon so I used Lime and I added some vinegar to the dressing. I am going to try to deep fry some thin pork skin until crunchy to add to the salad part. But otherwise, Ruhlman, you have just paid your debt to socety…pork…mmmmmm. If my husband and I open a restaurant here in Rochester, this will have to be on the menu.

  • Doodad

    I guess with that layer that is lost in crouton production you could make a tuile of cracklin…just for art’s sake.

    They have pork belly at the local Korean grocer. Hmmmm.

  • ruhlman

    yes, i probably will do that. you’ll loose a layer of fat and the gelatinous skin to keep them in crouton proportion, but in this case, the fat reduction (something I’m opposed to generally) won’t hurt the dish

  • Kate

    Will you try the crouton-pork-chunks next time? In addition to being witty, it seems like they would be even better than the big chunk in terms of eating ease and crunch-to-fat ratio?

  • ruhlman

    You know, I wasn’t expecting much flavorwise — given that this was food commentary and social criticism in recipe form. Kind of gimmicky. I knew the pork belly was rich and nicely seasoned with pepper and notes of sweet spices, and the crunchy exterior and melty fatty meaty mouthful would be excellent. But what I didn’t imagine was how well what is basically a lemon vinaigrette would go with these flavors. I should have because lemon goes great with fried foods. And the romaine provided just the right amount of cool light crunchiness. I thought it was a great dish, one I will happily make again.

  • wingsabre

    interesting, i love my pork belly. order that all the time when i order Chinese take-out.

    Perhapses we should drop the Caesar title, and name this salad the Mark Anthony.

  • Foodroadie

    You are a sick, perverted and wonderful human being. I now have an order into Niman Ranch for a 6 pound slab of pork belly and will be spending the weekend making confit. Amazing.

  • Deborah Dowd

    This recipe makes me glad that I work at a lab where they are working on using laser light to “melt” fat deposits in arteries! Shall I sign you up!?

  • The Purple Afghani

    Ruhlman. You did not copyright this recipe. What is that about? Fashion?

  • Badger

    I suppose we could argue whether chicken-fried anything should be made with panko, but, you know, DEEP FRIED PORK FAT. I’m not going to complain. Dredge it in crushed Doritos for all I care, just pass some over this way.

  • Fat Boy

    Come on, if you are going to rail against the first person who thought to put chicken with a Caesar Salad, I’m not sure you should get much accolade for simply substituting the “other” white meat. Making pork belly look good? Not exactly a tough task. You could put up a pic of it raw on that fancy china and I would drool. Show some imagination for chrissakes!

  • Nadine

    If I knew that crispy pork fat was on the menu at Appleby’s, I might take back half the things I’ve said about it.

  • Tags

    None for me, thanks. I’m holding out for the Chicken Fried Foie Caesar.

  • Kate

    Oh. My. God.

    Just….

    Ok, someone put this on a menu.

    BTW, speaking of pork belly I think that’s what the pork is in the phenomenal steamed pork buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Aren’t you and Bourdain fans of Momofuku? I’m dying to recreate those buns at home; I had them on my birthday two weeks ago and have been thinking about them ever since.

  • parkbench

    Looks like I’m picking up some pork belly this weekend. Thanks for this recipe, Mr. Ruhlman!

    Just finished going over the previous thread (!) and I must say, the display of a fallacy I’ll call “the exceptionalism of the masses” was certainly interesting (though how preferring good food using fresh ingredients and daring to speak of it is for “elitist snobs who shouldn’t name-call” escapes me).

    I’ve never had had fresh/homemade Caesar dressing, let alone tableside. Probably explains why I always hated it. But I am SO going to try this.

    Probaby a whole lot less expensive per serving than a blander version from TGI McFriendly’s, too. Seems like pretty darn “common (wo)man” to me to make it in my own kitchen.

    Thanks again!

    –parkbench

  • Stephanie Clarkson

    oh, god. You would not believe what a caesar salad dressing I’m having now. Dammit.

  • Emily

    You had me at “the interior fat is molten.”

    I would like to see a hunk of that deep fried belly cut in half, so that I may gaze upon its molten fattiness.

  • veron

    Yes! Pork Belly rules! Now I can take the pork belly confit to the next level… breaded before frying! And yes , I do have a couple of pounds of pork belly in the freezer right now.