Recreating an Atlanta restaurant meal, at home 

1 meal, 4 recipes, all Atlanta

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JAMES CAMP
  • James Camp

The Spence, In a Sense, Kale Caesar

"I love the texture of kale. It's the exact opposite of the romaine that's usually used in a Caesar salad. It's rough and slightly bitter. It has a chew to it ... and, mostly, flavor. We've used a few types of kale for this salad over the past couple years, but currently use baby kale as it's a bit softer. The dressing is simple, a basic Caesar dressing, but with the addition of a splash of fish sauce, chili, and lemon confit. We really ramp up the traditional ingredients ... lots of garlic, lots of anchovy, lots of lemon, and lots of black pepper."

— Richard Blais, executive chef, the Spence

Our version sticks with lemon juice and lemon zest rather than going for a confit, and leaves the fish sauce out in favor of straight-up anchovy and some Worcestershire sauce. The Spence adds in a bit of tarragon with its kale, but tarragon can be a turn-off to some, so we're leaving that out. It's totally fine by us to use ready-made croutons, but do make the dressing from scratch.

Ingredients

• 1 5-ounce package of baby kale (Yes, this is a thing, Publix and Kroger both carry it.)

• Croutons

• Lemon wedge

• Black pepper

• 1/2 cup finely shaved or shredded Parmesan

For the dressing:

• 1 egg yolk

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 4 anchovy fillets, chopped

• Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

• 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

• 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili pepper flakes

• 3/4 cup oil (preferably a mild olive oil, or a mix of olive oil and vegetable or canola oil)

Directions

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender and, well, blend. If you want to get fancy with emulsification dynamics, start with everything but the oil, then pour in the oil slowly while the blender runs. If it's too thick, add a little bit of water and blend again.

Keep the dressing cold until you're ready to serve. Then, toss the kale with dressing to taste (you will not need it all). Top the dressed salad with croutons, a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of black pepper, and a handful of finely shaved or shredded Parmesan. If you've got a microplane grater, that's great-er, but regular old store-bought shredded Parmesan will do.

Grubbs' suggested beer and wine pairings:

Option 1: Three Sisters Vineyards Vidal Blanc, Dahlonega, Ga. (available at the winery for $16 and at Marietta Wine Market)

"Vidal is a hybrid white grape, which means it has both European DNA (like most common wine grapes) and wild North American DNA. The American genes make it easier to grow on the East Coast, and this crisp white performs pretty well up at Doug Paul's farm in Lumpkin County."

Option 2: Wild Heaven Craft Beers, Let There Be Light American Ale, Decatur, Ga. (available frequently at growler shops such as Hop City, Ale Yeah!, or the Beer Growler)

"Most of Wild Heaven's stuff has a potent Belgian streak, but the Let There Be Light Ale is geared more toward lift, and crushability. Notes of orange peel link well to the zip of the Caesar dressing."

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