Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

"You have to leave the kitchen while I make this - I can't share the secret ingredient with you," I told Alyssa as she hovered near me, watching my every move as I prepared dinner for some friends that were joining us later that evening. Lesson learned: telling a kid that a secret ingredient lurks within their coveted salad dressing opens the floodgate to a handful of silly guesses.

"What is it? Is it limes? Poison? Dog toenails? Fish?"

She had guessed fish correctly, but there was no way I was going to let on that tiny, oil-packed anchovies are the key to her favorite Caesar dressing. And they really, really are - if you can't get past the anchovies and are tempted to skip them, don't. Use anchovy paste if you must, but their flavor is absolutely essential!

You will need:
2 chicken breasts (I used a precooked rotisserie chicken from the store)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 anchovies in oil, drained and diced, or 1 tsp anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup mayonnaise
1 loaf Italian or ciabatta bread, or 4 Italian or ciabatta sandwich rolls
Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Cooked sliced bacon (2-3 slices per sandwich)

Slice chicken breasts into thick slices and set aside.

To make the Caesar dressing, combine the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the anchovies/anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Process until smooth and well blended. Adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Refrigerate the dressing if not using right away.

Slice the bread in half horizontally and toast if desired. Spread both cut sides of the bread lightly with the Caesar dressing. Layer the bottom half of the bread with the romaine leaves, then top with shaved Parmesan, cooked bacon slices, and sliced chicken. Place the top half of the bread on top. If using a loaf of ciabatta, slice the assembled sandwich into individual servings. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

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