Classic Frisée Salad (Salade Lyonnaise)

This one is a no brainer. Especially if you have vowed to eat healthy this winter.  (Yes, we're calling this healthy. It's salad. Go away.)

Let's face it, the combination of bacon and eggs is almost always the answer to life's questions. Cobb Salad, Spaghetti Carbonara, and (let's face it) Egg McMuffins. All divine. All bacon and eggs. Coincidence? Nope. But this one, at least, can claim to be a smidgen healthier than all of those. 

But if we follow the narrative that France brings us the best in (or at least the foundation of) the gastronomical world (a narrative espoused by many of my own culinary heroes, including Alice Waters), then we need turn only to Salade Lyonnaise, or a classic frisée salad with poached eggs and salty lardons. I say, let's follow that narrative. 

With its creamy, tangy, smoky, and umami-based flavors, this little salad(e) hits all the right spots. Let's break it down, shall we?

  • Egg--you have to have the perfect poached egg.  And it doesn't have to look perfect to be perfect. It just needs to have a good, runny yolk so it can coat the salad. The warmth of the yolk wilts the frisée just the tiniest bit and you get the extra little jolt of fat. Yes, please.
  • Lardons--It's bacon, my friends. Salty and smoky all rolled up into one. Where can one go wrong with bacon? Nowhere.
  • Croutons--put a little garlic on that bread. It's the only proper way.
  • Frisée (or curly endive)--a member of the chicory family,  frisée boasts a bitterness that can stand up to the assertive dressing and a crunch that can withstand the warm yolk. This is a strong little fellow.
  • Dressing--This is the most important part. The tanginess from the vinegar, the sharpness from the garlic, the unctuousness of the oil, the bite of the mustard. Yes. Yes. This is a way to dress any salad but the only way to dress a Salade Lyonnaise.

In the end, this recipe is blisteringly easy to make although with many a steps. But the hardest part is the poaching of the egg. And, I'll admit, my egg poaching is not enviable yet. I am still working on it. My egg whites go zooming all throughout the water, and I have to gather them back into each other. But once corralled, the eggs still taste as good as a more picturesque one. And the sum of these humble salad parts is most certainly worthy it. Especially if you can commandeer someone to tear up the frisée while you herd an egg white. 

Even if we both know I am kidding myself on the healthy part.


Classic Frisée Salad (Salade Lyonnaise)

Adapted From David Tanis' One Good Dish

4 salads

6 ounces thick-cut bacon sliced crosswise into ¼-inch-wide lardons
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
½ tsp grated garlic
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 eggs
4 handfuls frisée
12 thin slices baguette, lighted toasted and rubbed with a garlic clove

1. Simmer the bacon in a little water for about 5 minutes in order to cook off a little of the salt. Drain. In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until lightly browned and crisp. Blot on a paper towel.

2.  Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3.  Fill a shallow skillet two-thirds full with salted water and bring to a gentle simmer. Crack each egg individually into a small bowl and then carefully slip each one into the water. Poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes, until the whites have set but the yolks are still soft. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. 

4.  Lightly salt the frisée and toss with the vinaigrette, coating it well. Divide the greens among 4 plates, place an egg in the center of each, and add 3 baguette toasts. Scatter the lardons over the salads, add ground black pepper, and serve.


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