Keens' Caesar Salad

Keens’ Caesar Salad
Season 3, Episode 4 , “The Arrangements”

Pete Campbell’s friend and Dartmouth classmate Horace Cook, whom Pete calls “Hoho,” is a young man with an ascot around his neck and deep pockets filled with family money. His obsession is jai alai, a sport with Basque origins, and his ambition is to make the sport bigger than baseball. He describes his star player, known as “Patchy,” as “Babe Ruth, only handsome.”

At Pete’s suggestion Horace enlists Sterling Cooper to create a media campaign to build enthusiasm for jai alai. Hoho’s dreams are even bigger than his multi-million dollar fortune: He wants radio and print advertising and an adventure television series starring Patchy to air on all three major networks simultaneously and in color. Harry Crane, Sterling Cooper’s one-man television department, notes that CBS doesn’t do color yet, but that doesn’t dissuade Horace. When Lane Pryce tells him the campaign will cost at least a million dollars, Hoho replies that’s a third of his budget.

“Enjoy your fatted calf,” says Pete to Lane after the meeting. Pete has no qualms about taking his friend’s money for a campaign he doesn’t really believe will succeed; he’s just happy to be making rain for the firm. Don Draper is less sanguine. He points out that Horace Sr. is “connected to Bert Cooper in a thousand ways,” and won’t look favorably on the firm exploiting his naïve son. Later, at dinner at Keens Chophouse (now called Keens Steak House) on West 36th Street, Don tries to steer Horace away from his jai alai dreams, to Pete’s dismay, because he believes they are doomed to turn sour.

As they talk, a uniformed waiter prepares a Caesar salad tableside, the way they still do it at Keens today. (Preparing a Caesar tableside was a mark of a restaurant’s class; Betty, Don, and Roger enjoy one tossed tableside at Toots Shor’s, another legendary New York eatery, in season 1, episode 2 ,“Ladies' Room”, as well.)

The spacious, high-ceilinged Keens depicted in Mad Men doesn’t resemble the real Keens, however. Founded in 1885 in what was then the Herald Square Theater District, Keens is far more intimate and clubby. Its low ceiling is lined with tens of thousands of clay churchwarden pipes, each numbered and carefully catalogued by a pipe warden so pipe boys would be sure to deliver the right smoking device to each one of the 90,000 members of the Pipe Club, a group that originated at Keens in the early 1900s. In the foyer at Keens there are pipes o used by such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, General Douglas MacArthur, Will Rogers, and, yes, even Babe Ruth.

Caesar salad has been on the menu at Keens since at least the 1960s, according to Executive Chef Bill Rodgers, and he graciously shared his recipe with us. Hoho believed jai alai would someday “eclipse baseball.” He was wrong about that, but we’re quite confident that Rodgers’ recipe for Caesar salad will, like Babe Ruth, long be remembered as the greatest in the game.

Caesar Salad courtesy of Executive Chef Bill Rodgers, Keens’ Steakhouse, New York, New York

Note: At Keens the waiters dress the salad and add the garnishes tableside.

The recipe makes one large salad portion. You’ll have leftover dressing and croutons. Executive Chef Bill Rodgers also recommends using this delicious salad dressing for marinating grilled chicken.

For the salad

3 1/2 cups clean, cut romaine lettuce
2 ounces Caesar Dressing (see recipe below)

For the topping

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the garnish

Raw egg yolk
4 thin slices pimiento
2 anchovy filets, cut in half (4 pieces)
Caesar Croutons (see recipe below)

1. Make the salad: Place lettuce in a serving bowl. Toss with dressing.

2. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, garnish with egg yolk, pimento, anchovy filets, and croutons and toss well.

Yield: 1 large salad (serves 1–2)

Caesar Dressing

1 1/2 ounces water
1 ounce lemon juice
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup pure olive oil
1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
6 peeled garlic cloves
10 Italian anchovy filets
2 2/3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon dry mustard
3/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Make the dressing: Combine the water and lemon juice in a measuring cup and set aside.

2. Combine canola and olive oils in a measuring cup and set aside.

3. In the blender, combine the remaining ingredients and mix for 10 seconds. With the blender running, slowly begin to add the combined oils in a slow and steady stream. As you continue to add the oil, the mixture will begin to thicken. When the mixture thickens, thin it out with 1/3 of the water/lemon juice mixture. Repeat this process until all the oil has been incorporated.

4. Chill dressing until cold.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups dressing

Caesar Croutons

Note: Place the bread in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing to make it easier to cut even squares.

Whole melted butter can be substituted for the clarified butter, but will brown the croutons faster. To make clarified butter, melt 4 tablespoons of butter slowly in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit until it separates. Skim off the foam that rises to the top, and gently pour the butter off of the milk solids, which will have settled to the bottom.

6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/4-inch squares (see note above)
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted (see note above)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley and thyme)
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Toss bread cubes in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.

2. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or just until slightly browned and crisp. Let cool at room temperature before serving. Store covered in an airtight container.

Yield: Croutons for 6 large Caesar salads