01 December 2009

Frisée Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

If I were to give a young man advice to winning the heart of the woman of his dreams, I would say, "Learn how to cook." There's nothing quite like a romantic home-made dinner to melt a girl's heart. My wife fell in love with me over this salad. And every year, I let her choose the menu for her birthday. Without fail, she chooses this salad. It's quite simple, it's basically a vinaigrette, substituting the oil with bacon grease.

However, she always prepares the lettuce. Always. See, I don't make salads. I'll make the dressing and make the additives, but I have lettuce-phobia. When I was in high-school, I worked in a pizza joint for 2 years. We served a lot of pizza, but very little salad. Nonetheless, my boss bought lettuce in bulk from the restaurant supplier. So we'd have this huge bag with 10 heads of lettuce in it and we'd serve a salad every other night. Needless to say, the bag would go bad, *every time*. You'd think he would learn. And when an order would come back for a salad, he would send me into the cold room to make a salad. I would come back and say, "All of the lettuce is rotten. There's not enough to make a salad." He would send me back. "Find a salad". It would take me pulling apart 5 heads of lettuce to find enough non-rotten lettuce to make a salad. I haven't made a salad since. My wife prepares the beautiful, pristine bowls of lettuce.

frisee

So this is a happy story.

I modified this recipe from Gourmet (in the years before it started to suck):
½ pound frisée (French curly endive)
6 ounces slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
fleur de sel
I use homemade bacon for this recipe. Chopped into rather coarse bacon bits. If you chop it this way, you get nice crispy outside, and soft chewy insides of the bacon bits. Perfect.

To start, get a pot of water boiling. Add the white wine vinegar to it.

bacon and shallots

Meanwhile, chop the bacon coarsely and sauté in a small frying pan.

bacon

Fry the bacon until it looks crispy and delicious.

fry that bacon

Fish out the chunks of bacon.

lardons

Toss the shallots into the hot bacon grease. Sauté the shallots in the bacon grease until softened.

shallots

Meanwhile, poach the eggs in the boiling water. I crack the eggs into a cup and lower them into the pot. Cook them until the whites have turned white, that way you still have runny egg yolks. Yum. This next part is tricky. You want to assemble all parts of the salad and serve while hot.

Dress the salad with the bacon.

frisee with bacon bits

Meanwhile, fish out the poached eggs and set them on top of the salad AND deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar.

shallots deglazed

If you're leaning too far forward when you deglaze the hot grease with the red wine vinegar, you'll feel like you've been punched in the face by the vinegar vapor. Just don't do it. Yes, that is a mistake I've made. Ow.

Pour the vinegar/bacon grease/shallot mixture over the salad.

Assembling the salad

Sprinkle on the fleur de sel. Serve. I advise guests to break the egg yolk and let it run over the salad, to make part of the dressing.

Final salad

Rich. Salty. Bacony. Outrageously delicious. And really, except the last minutes, this isn't that hard to make. Yum.

2 comments:

* said...

better yet is when your son isn't that excited about the salad (becuause he's 3, and not into lettuce yet) and you get to eat your bacon salad AND his!

lostpastremembered said...

Bacon salad??? You just made my fella a very happy man. I am making this tonight!!

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