2-3 dstsp mayonnaise
juice 1 large lemon
50 g finely grated Parmesan plus extra for shaving
half a small loaf of day-old bread (most prefer ciabatta but any good white bread is fine) – mostly decrusted and cubed
3-4 anchovies – finely chopped
2 medium size chicken breasts, pounded flat (about 0.5- 1cm thick all over)
1 head Romaine/Cos lettuce
1 large clove garlic – finely chopped
pinch dried herbs like oregano or basil
freshly cracked black pepper
1) Pre heat the oven to 180°C
2) Start with the dressing by spooning mayo into a medium sized glass bowl and then pound your garlic and anchovies in the mortar and pestle to make a fine paste. Add some olive oil to this at the last stage to ensure you get as much of that salty pungent goodness out of the mortar and tip it all into the mayo bowl. Don’t add any salt at this stage but do add the lemon juice, black pepper and finely grated parmesan and whisk together to form a fairly smooth sauce although it won’t be completely smooth unless you’ve ground the Parmesan to dust.
3) In a lined baking tray, tumble the bread cubes, oil, salt and pepper and pinch of herbs together – and place in oven
4) Season your flattened chicken breasts and fry for about 5 minutes in olive oil by which time it might also be worth checking the croutons, as they will now be becoming. Flip over and fry for another 5 mins (having, I’d suggest, tumbled the croutons once during baking to avoid them burning on one side and not getting quite golden brown enough on another)
5) Remove the croutons after about 15 mins in total (but check after 12) – if you’ve turned them during the bake, they will be appetisingly coloured
6) Slice the chicken breast into strips of about 1.5cm
7) Cut off the root of the romaine lettuce and separate the leaves loosely into the awaiting mayo-based dressing – if you’re going to wash them, make sure the leaves are completely dry so this would be better done in advance.
8) Don’t worry about getting a perfect covering of dressing as you can dribble more on later, but the key thing is to arrange your dressed leaves quite artfully and then gently pile on some strips of chicken and some croutons. Dribble over any remaining dressing.
9) As a final flourish, delicately shave a bit more Parmesan with a veg peeler directly onto the salad. If you’re like me (and i admit, very few are), real decadence is achieved by draping over a few extra thin strips of anchovy fillet.
10) Now marvel at this punchy, wonderfully coloured, multi-textured feast as you gorge upon it!