Grilled Caesar with Masa Croutons


(Serves 8, with dressing left over)

For the Masa Croutons:

1 lb masa flour (harina) (plus 1 lb for dredging)

2 qts vegetable stock or water

2 tsp salt

4 cups corn oil for frying

For the Dressing:

5 eggs, boiled in their shells for 12 minutes; yolk only, discard the white after cooking

½ cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

4 lemons, juiced

20 anchovy filets

20 garlic cloves

1/4 cup warm water

4 cups pure olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 Romaine lettuce hearts, quartered lengthwise

Olive oil for grilling

24 boquerones (white Spanish anchovies in vinegar-optional)

¼ lb shaved Manchego or Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese

Heat the vegetable stock or water to boiling in a 4-6 qt stock pot. Add the salt and the masa, and cook, stirring, for 35-40 minutes. Spread out onto an oiled, straight-sided baking sheet, spreading the masa evenly with an offset spatula, about ¼-inch thick. Refrigerate and allow to set.

When set, unmold the masa, and cut into ¼-inch dice. In a bowl, thoroughly dredge the croutons in the remaining masa flour. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, and fry the croutons until crisp and golden brown. Dry the croutons on paper towels and keep warm.

To make the dressing: Place the cooked egg yolks and all the other ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil and the Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Puree until smooth, and drizzle in the olive oil VERY slowly. Add the parmesan at the end and shut off the processor. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Drizzle the Romaine sections with olive oil, and grill until lightly charred. Place one Romaine wedge at the top of the plate and drizzle with dressing. Place another Romaine wedge over the first at an angle, and drizzle the entire plate with dressing. Now lay the boquerones over the Romaine, and sprinkle the shaved Manchego or Parmesan around the plate, along with a nice quantity of masa croutons.

-Flavors And More Magazine: August 2009

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