Caesar salad originated in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1924, the invention of a genial Italian restaurateur named Caesar Cardini. The grilled romaine is served in halves and crowned with the creamy, cheesy, anchovy-spiked dressing that has made the Caesar America’s favorite salad.
Step 1: Soak 1 cup wood chips for 1 hour in water to cover, then drain.
Step 2: Strip any blemished or wilted leaves off the heads of romaine. If using romaine hearts, cut in half lengthwise, leaving the stem ends attached. If using whole heads, cut lengthwise in quarters. Clean as needed by placing the cut sides under cold running water and rinse them thoroughly, gently separating the leaves with your fingers, but leaving them attached to the stems. Shake well and blot dry on paper towels. (Note: if using hearts of romaine, you probably won’t need to wash them.)
Step 3: Lightly brush the bread on both sides with the olive oil.
Step 4: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate. If using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips directly on the coals. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box or in a foil smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke.
Step 5: Place the lettuce halves, cut sides down, and bread slices on the hot grate and grill until the lettuce leaves are lightly browned and only slightly wilted (the inside should remain crisp) and the bread is a deep golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Watch the bread carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Step 6: Transfer the grilled lettuce to a platter or plates, cut side up. Cut off and discard the stem ends. Spoon the Creamy Caesar Dressing over the lettuce. Arrange a slice of grilled bread and 2 to 3 anchovies on each. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano over each salad. Grind pepper over each salad and serve at once.