This is a classic Bistro dish and it really exemplifies the simplicity of great bistro food – good ingredients, strong flavors, and fairly unfussy preparation (even for the home cook). I like to think of this dish as all the flavors of a great breakfast in salad form – kind of the best of both worlds.
Today’s post is to satisfy a request for the recipe for my ” Salade de Frisee aux Lardons” from a customer of Cafe du Soleil.
As with some of my other posts – this one isn’t so much in standard recipe format – it’s more of a description of how to prepare the dish.
The hardest part of this dish is probably finding good frisee lettuce. In Manhattan most of the gourmet markets carry it – and I’m figuring most Whole Foods markets carry it too. In any event – the photo above shows the type of lettuce you are looking for. Light green to yellowish color leaves and heads that are not too large.
For the bacon – the classic French recipes call for thick “lardons” of smoked slab bacon. The lardons give you something to sink your teeth into rather than thin, crunchy bacon bits. This bacon may be a little hard to find also - fancy butcher shops will probably have it, or you can use a thick cut bacon (sometimes called “Sunday bacon”). But it’s your call how you like your bacon.
Wash and spin dry frisee lettuce. refrigerate until ready to use. Prepare Dijon Vinaigrette (see my blog post of September, 2009).
For the bacon – if using slab bacon cut into roughly 1/4″ x 3/4″ pieces. Blanch in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, then saute with a knob of butter over medium heat until nicely browned but not too dry (omit the blanching step if you are using regular sliced bacon). Drain on paper towel.
For the shirred egg – using the same water that you blanched the bacon in – add a dash of white vinegar, bring to a simmer, then crack the eggs one at a time into the water (I usually serve one egg per salad). Poach for about 30 seconds to a minute until the whites just hold their shape, then remove with a slotted spoon and chill in a bowl of cold water. You can cook the eggs longer if you like them more well done, but the idea is to have the yolk run into the salad and mix with the vinaigrette so you have that extra richness and foil to the sharp vinaigrette.
Croutons are a nice addition to this salad. I make mine out of day-old sourdough baguette, cut into cubes, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toasted on a baking sheet until golden brown.
Once you have all these components ready – toss frisee with vinaigrette, and add croutons and lardons (a pinch of finely chopped shallots adds a lovely dimension to this salad as well).
If serving on individual plates, divide salad onto plates, then top each with a shirred egg. Another optional touch is to circle the plates with a ring of bright green chive oil (recipe in my blog post of June 18, 2008).
If serving in a salad bowl…….well, I’m sure you can figure that out.