Appetites: A Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain (2016)

3. SALADS

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CAESAR SALAD

Caesar salad is of Mexican origin. You probably didn’t know that, crediting it instead to the Italians. Nope. Another reason to love Mexico—unless you insist on putting sad, overcooked, characterless strips of grilled chicken cutlet on top of it and mashing it down into landfill

God does not want you to put chicken in your Caesar.

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Serves 4 to 8

2½ cups extra-virgin olive oil

10 oil-packed anchovies, drained

4 garlic cloves: 2 peeled and smashed, 2 peeled and finely chopped

6 slices white sandwich bread, cut into ¾-inch dice

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco sauce

3 egg yolks

1 large or 2 small heads of romaine lettuce, dark outermost leaves discarded, washed, chilled, and coarsely chopped

16 boquerones (white-vinegar-cured anchovies packed in oil), drained, for garnish (optional)

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Sheet pan lined with newspaper

Food processor or blender

In a wide, heavy-bottom sauté pan, heat 1 cup of the oil over medium-low heat. Add 4 of the anchovies and the smashed garlic and let cook until the anchovies fall apart and dissolve into the oil, aiding this process by gently mashing them with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat and add the diced bread, cooking for a few minutes and tossing to make sure that the bread is toasted and golden brown on all sides. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the croutons to a mixing bowl, and gently toss with ¼ cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt and pepper. Transfer the croutons to the lined sheet pan to drain.

In the food processor, combine the remaining 6 anchovies, the chopped garlic, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and egg yolks and puree. Slowly drizzle in the remaining oil and puree until it has all been incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

In a salad bowl, toss the lettuce with the dressing, using enough to coat but not drown the leaves. Add the remaining ¾ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss gently again. Distribute the salad among individual plates, and garnish each plate with one or more boquerones, if using.

TUNA SALAD

If you’re like me, you have certain expectations for your tuna salad based on early, formative tuna-salad experiences. I don’t want mine to deviate too far from the lunch counters of my childhood. I want it on sliced white bread. I want it with crisp iceberg lettuce. And I do not want any creative additions distracting from the fundamental elements.

However, there’s tuna . . . and then there’s tuna. I like high-test jarred or canned tuna. Fresh tuna, as any Spaniard will tell you, is not necessarily the best tuna. And some of the canned stuff in Spain, such as Don Bocarte or Ortiz brand ventresca tuna belly packed in olive oil, will run you a hundred dollars a can. Buy the best available.

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Serves 4 to 6

24 ounces oil-packed tuna, preferably Spanish or Italian varieties (see recipe headnote), drained

½ red onion, peeled and diced (about ½ cup)

3 ribs celery, diced (about ½ cup)

¾ cup Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 to 10 slices of white bread

4 to 6 leaves iceberg lettuce

Place the tuna in a mixing bowl, along with the onion and celery. Add the mayonnaise a little at a time, breaking up the tuna with a fork and mixing as you go—this will give you the option to dial back the mayonnaise if your preference is to go lighter (an impulse I don’t necessarily endorse but grudgingly acknowledge). Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste and serve on bread with lettuce.

CHICKEN SALAD

Chicken salad is a pretty simple thing, which means that you’ve got to get the details right. What’s essential here is how you cut the poached chicken. For proper chicken salad sandwich structure and engineering, I like a small, distinct dice. When the pieces are too large, the salad doesn’t hold together as a sandwich filling. By contrast, when they’re cut too small, your salad becomes an unappealing mush.

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Makes about 1 quart, enough for 4 standard-size sandwiches

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds total)

⅔ cup Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise

1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced (about ¼ cup)

1 rib celery, finely diced

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the chicken in a heavy-bottom pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a simmer and cook at that level for 10 minutes, taking care not to let the heat level rise to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let sit for another 10 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the water and let cool, then cut into a ¼-inch dice.

Place the diced chicken in a mixing bowl and use a spatula to fold in the mayonnaise, onion, celery, celery salt, tarragon (if using), Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

TOMATO SALAD

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This recipe lives and dies on having perfectly ripe tomatoes, purchased in season. Does that mean heirloom tomatoes? And are heirloom tomatoes in fact inherently better than mere vine-ripened or other varieties of ripe tomatoes? To my mind, heirloom tomatoes are akin to “Burgundy” wine. Despite carrying a recognizable label that’s come to connote high quality, you never know what you’re going to get from tomato to tomato or bottle to bottle—which is half the fun.

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Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds best-quality ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into rough wedges

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, cut into chiffonade just before tossing and serving

3 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade just before tossing and serving

6 tablespoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Sea salt to taste

Freshly roughly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and herbs in a salad bowl. Drizzle the oil and vinegars over the mixture and season with the salt and pepper. Use salad tongs or scrupulously clean hands to gently toss the mixture together, taking care to maintain the structural integrity of the tomatoes as much as possible. Serve immediately.

POTATO SALAD

This is a straight-ahead potato salad, with hard-cooked eggs replaced by bacon. Use good potatoes, don’t overcook them, make your own mayonnaise, get the high-end thick-cut bacon (Nueske’s, Snake River Farms, Benton’s Country Hams, and Zingerman’s all have excellent offerings on the web, or seek out the pork guy at your local farmer’s market), and pay attention to the seasoning.

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Makes about 2 quarts, to serve 8 to 12

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 or 7 large potatoes), peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

6 ounces thick-cut bacon

1 cup Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 small red onion, finely diced (about ⅓ cup)

1 rib celery, finely diced

10 to 12 cornichons, finely chopped

¼ cup attractive celery leaves, for garnish (optional)

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Plate lined with newspaper

Place the potatoes in a medium, heavy-bottom pot and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Add the white vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt, stir lightly, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through, then remove from heat, drain, and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove from the skillet and drain on the plate lined with newspaper. Once cool enough to handle, cut or crumble the bacon into small pieces.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the potatoes, bacon, onion, celery, and cornichons and fold together with a spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with the celery leaves, if using, and serve.

BOSTON LETTUCE WITH RADISHES, CARROTS, APPLES, AND YOGURT-CHIVE DRESSING

This particular combination of shapes and colors looks pretty and tastes good together, but there’s some room for variation here. You can use other greens of a similar texture—red oak, baby arugula, romaine, young spinach—but avoid hardier types like frisée, escarole, or baby kale. Parsley, mint, or basil, or a combination, would work well in place of chives. Champagne, red or white wine, or apple cider vinegar can sub in for lemon juice, but don’t use balsamic, which tips the balance into unconscionably sweet territory. When prepping your raw salad ingredients, remember that apples (and, to a lesser extent, radishes) turn brown once exposed to air, so don’t do that prep too far in advance, or hit them with some lemon juice to forestall the inevitable.

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Serves 4 to 8

¾ cup whole milk yogurt

3 tablespoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional but highly recommended)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Head of Boston lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

3 red radishes (or 1 Watermelon or Breakfast radish), scrubbed and very thinly sliced

1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

1 apple, preferably a semitart variety, cored and julienned

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, fish sauce (if using), and chives. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Arrange the lettuce, radishes, carrots, and apple in a salad bowl and toss together if you’ll be dressing the salad in the kitchen (in which case you need to wait until guests are seated and chilled salad plates are at the ready before doing so, because once the acidic yogurt hits the salad, it starts breaking it down and making it look decidedly less lovely). Alternatively, do not toss the salad ingredients but instead leave segregated, as for salade composée, in which case you should serve the dressing alongside.

ICEBERG WEDGE WITH STILTON AND PANCETTA

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Remember when everybody looked down on iceberg lettuce? When it was suddenly gone from menus everywhere? Me neither. Let’s pretend it never happened.

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Serves 6

6 ounces pancetta, cut into cubes

8 ounces Stilton or other high-quality blue cheese, crumbled

¼ cup Mayonnaise or store-bought mayonnaise

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Head of iceberg lettuce, washed, cored, and cut into 6 equal wedges

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ cup fried shallots

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Plate lined with newspaper

Place the pancetta in a large sauté pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cubes are browned and have rendered their visible fat, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to the lined plate to drain.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine half the Stilton, the mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and whisk together to make a homogenous mixture. Thin with 1 tablespoon water if necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Place a few tablespoons of the dressing in the center of each serving plate and top with an iceberg wedge. Drizzle each wedge with another tablespoon or two of dressing. Top each serving with some of the pancetta and the remaining blue cheese. Garnish with parsley and fried shallots and serve.

DO CHUA SALAD WITH HERBS, SCALLIONS, SPROUTS, AND EGG

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Reasonably authentic Vietnamese flavors can be coaxed out of any kitchen if you shop right. Case in point: Vietnamese do chua, a quick pickle, easily made with just a few ingredients, an essential part of Banh Mi, and the basis of this crunchy salad. Pay attention when buying herbs for this dish: no yellowed cilantro, giant woody-stemmed mint, or blackening basil, please. You can always throw a pork chop or some ground pork, beef, or lamb onto this thing, maybe some cooked rice or rice noodles, and call it dinner.

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Serves 4 to 6

4 medium to large carrots, peeled and julienned

1 large daikon radish (1 to 1½ pounds), peeled and julienned

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ cup white vinegar

½ cup sherry vinegar

¾ cup hot water

1 bunch of scallions, roots trimmed, white and light green parts thinly sliced, green tops reserved for stock

2 cups crisp mung or soy bean sprouts

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise

1 cup fresh young basil leaves

1 cup fresh young mint leaves

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Nuoc Mam Cham to taste

Sriracha to taste

First, make the do chua: In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, daikon, salt, and 2 teaspoons sugar and toss well. Let sit for 30 minutes, then discard the liquid that has collected beneath the vegetables. Squeeze them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Rinse and dry the bowl and return the vegetables to it, along with the remaining sugar, white and sherry vinegars, and hot water. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, after which point you can either assemble the salad or transfer to a glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Remove the do chua from its holding container with tongs and transfer it to a clean mixing bowl. You don’t want to take all of the brine with you, but whatever it comes attached with is fine. Add the scallions, sprouts, and eggs and gently toss or fold together. Add the herbs and fold or toss again. Taste and season as desired with nuoc mam cham and sriracha, then serve immediately.