The famous 'frisée aux lardons' – now that's a salad with style! Hot, cold, crunchy, crisp, silky, salty, bitter, sweet. It ticks all the taste bud boxes in one go. And, if you add any cooked potatoes that are left over, you'll have a complete meal. If you can't find frisée, use another type of salad but choose one with character i.e. bitter and crunchy, as it is crucial for getting the balance of the recipe right. I'd suggest dandelion leaves greens, cos romaine lettuce, or wild chicory endive.
a little oil for frying
6 bacon rashers [slices], cut into large lardons
1/2 medium-sized onion, roughly chopped
150g [5oz] stale bread, cut into small cubes (honestly, I never have any stale bread and there’s never time to leave it to go stale, so just use the bread you have)
4 eggs (the fresher they are, the easier they will be to poach)
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
8 Tbsp rapeseed or groundnut [peanut] oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 large frisée lettuce [French curly endive]
chopped fresh chives
Heat a little oil in a frying pan [skillet] over medium heat and fry the bacon lardons, onion and bread cubes. The idea is that these last two get acquainted as soon as they meet.
Heat water in a saucepan until it comes to the boil and then turn the heat down so the water is just simmering gently. Break an egg into a mug and slide it very carefully into the water. Poach for 3–4 minutes and then lift out the egg with a slotted spoon and drain it on kitchen paper [paper towels]. If you’re struggling with this, the best YouTube video showing you how to do it is the one by English chef Heston Blumenthal. Repeat with the remaining three eggs.
Put the vinegar, maple syrup, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar. Screw the lid on the jar and shake it well to combine the ingredients and make a smooth, tasty dressing.
Wash and drain the frisée lettuce thoroughly.
Toss the lettuce with the dressing until the leaves are coated and divide them between 4 serving plates. Spoon the bacon, onion and bread cubes on top and sprinkle over the chives. Finally, place a poached egg in the centre of each serving. Leave diners to cut into the eggs so the runny yolks ooze over the salad.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz, published by Quadrille September 2018.
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