On any given Sunday afternoon, you’ll find Chrissy and Charlie Deal in the kitchen listening to music as they chop up cucumbers and peppers for a quick cheese plate. Benji Pearson, Chrissy’s son and Charlie’s stepson, can be found during those sunny afternoons in and out of the kitchen, too: half the time playing, half the time helping out. “Benji will crush some cucumbers and raw peppers,” Charlie says. He loves his veggies, but “could eat about 20 of his mom’s biscuits drizzled with honey if we let him.” As a family, all are big fans of pizza and chicken, and Chrissy, as a “great cook with southern roots” in Charlie’s words, is a master at southern cuisine.
Charlie’s Caesar Salad
2 large garlic cloves
8 anchovy filets
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Dash of red wine vinegar
Juice of 1-2 lemons, divided
11⁄2 cups olive oil
Salt to taste
Good bread for croutons
2 small heads of romaine lettuce
Chop the garlic and anchovy. Whisk together the yolks, mustard, vinegar and juice of one lemon. Add anchovy and garlic. Then, while constantly whisking, drizzle oil in: slowly at first, then you can go a little faster once you’ve established an emulsion. Add salt and more lemon juice to taste.*
For the croutons, cut some good bread into cubes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them until golden brown at 350 F, or you can fry thick slices of bread in olive oil on both sides, season them (even rub some raw garlic on them when they’re hot and crispy), then cut them up.
Cut the romaine as you like, toss with dressing, croutons and finely grated Parmesan cheese.
* “Remember, Caesar dressing should be very assertive. Romaine is a watery lettuce, which is why strong, thick dressings work so well with it. Your dressing should taste too salty, too garlicky and too fishy when you taste it alone, because the water content in the lettuce will cut it. If it tastes just right alone, the salad will taste bland. I like to include the mustard because I like the taste, and it’s a bit of a cheat because it makes it easier to get a nice emulsion, which, of course, is crucial,” reminds Charlie.