By now you know that Chef Elizabeth Falkner was eliminated on last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, and whether or not you agree with the judges’ decision to send her home on account of too much saffron, one thing is certain: The spheres of Caesar dressing she concocted during her final Secret Ingredient Showdown were simply beautiful. Instead of merely using from-scratch salad dressing — or, heaven forbid, bottled dressing — to top her salad, Chef Falkner took her pureed mixture one step further by piping it into mini rounds and chilling them over ice until they were semifirm. These dressing bubbles of sorts kept their shape on the plate until they were burst open, their liquid insides revealed.
In honor of this ingenious dish and Chef Falkner’s masterful technique in creating it, this week’s Rival Recipes battle is all about that classic Italian-American salad: the Caesar salad. But instead of Redemption rivals, we’re challenging standing Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian to bring their best salads to the showdown.
While both Iron Chefs are featuring classic flavors and textures in their Caesar salads, each has added his signature spin to elevate them beyond the everyday. It’s perhaps no surprise that grilling guru Chef Flay has chosen to serve a Grilled Romaine Salad With Spicy Caesar Dressing, a top-rated recipe that’s finished with grilled croutons, while classical chef Zakarian offers a Caesar Salad With Red Romaine, served with fresh lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Like Chef Falkner did in her very last battle, both Chef Flay and Chef Zakarian look to anchovy fillets to add a briny, salty taste to their dressings, but only Chef Flay mixes in a dollop of mayonnaise for a rich, creamy finish — Chef Zakarian relies on an egg yolk to offer the same texture.
Fans, the voting is in your hands. It’s time to channel your inner Simon Majumdar and Donatella Arpaia and judge these salads to decide whose recipe reigns supreme. Do you appreciate the smoky flavors of Chef Flay’s warm grilled lettuce or would you prefer Chef Zakarian’s chilled plate with soft red romaine? Are you a fan of Chef Flay’s bold chipotle-laced dressing, or are you craving something more mild, like Chef Zakarian’s dressing made with Dijon mustard, honey and just one clove of garlic? Vote for the winner below, and be sure to tune in Sunday, December 9 at 9pm/8c to watch the rivals face off in Las Vegas.