The Breakfast Salad

After a recent post on carbonara, I received a comment from my friend and one half of the dynamite blog duo known as Gourmandistan, Michelle, who confessed to having in the past served a Calvin Trillin Thanksgiving. The writer and humorist had once suggested we (America) should shift away from bland, dry turkey on the holiday, and serve spaghetti carbonara instead.

Salade frisée aux lardons

Salade frisée aux lardons

A perfectly sensible suggestion to this particular cook who finds the traditional Thanksgiving menu, politely put, uninspired.

I wanted to read a bit more about this, and found myself on the New Yorker website, browsing another interesting reflection on carbonara. In the story, author Ian Fisher considered the attraction of this simple Roman dish, and cited various questionable origin stories that placed its invention around the time Americans GIs were present in the city post-World War II with their beloved breakfast ingredients.

Whatever the reality may be, there is a central truth to the story — and the dish: quite simply, bacon and eggs are a heavenly combination, one that transcends the breakfast table.

The eggs matter.

The eggs matter.

Enter one of my favorite salads, the French classic: Salade frisée aux lardons. Bacon and eggs salad!

This Parisian bistro standard is another inspired convergence of a handful of perfect ingredients: egg, bacon, frisée lettuce, vinaigrette and pepper, in which — as is often the case — the very best of quality in each ingredient makes the dish. One Sunday morning while my son was at baseball practice, I walked amongst the raw food and gluten-free vendors, fat collagen lips and faux dressed-down “regular” folks at the Malibu Farmer’s Market, where a beautiful curly endive caught my attention. I had my own free range eggs and some Mahogany Smoke House bacon from Bishop, CA, to take care of the rest.

My pal Alex, who had joined us for dinner that evening, pushed his fork around on his plate. “My last bite: just bacon and egg!” The lettuce was out of the way, Ian Fisher and Calvin Trillin came to mind, and the breakfast salad was in the books.

Enjoy!

*    *    *

Salade frisée aux lardons
serves 4

1 large head frisée (curly endive)
4 large farm fresh eggs
1/2 lb. bacon or pancetta, thickly sliced
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
freshly cracked pepper

Wash and separate the lettuce into large pieces. Arrange on four plates.

Slice the bacon into strips or “batons”. Fry over medium heat until they are lightly crisp but still chewy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Make your vinaigrette: stir together mustard, vinegar and sugar. Whisk in oil in a thin stream, forming an emulsion. Spoon a little of the vinaigrette over each of the four salads, and then drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Top with bacon lardons.

Heat the bacon fat over medium heat. Fry the eggs on both sides to medium, and remove from heat.

Place an egg on top of each of the salads, and top with freshly ground pepper.

Serve with a crisp white French wine or a California or New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pal-O
    May 06, 2016 @ 04:03:28

    Lovely!!

    Reply

  2. Tim Irish
    May 06, 2016 @ 04:29:35

    Excellent idea–handsome presentation too… I’ll do it this weekend.

    Reply

  3. Michelle
    May 06, 2016 @ 13:54:41

    I’d love this post even without the shout-out. 🙂

    Reply

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