Monique Martin's Salade Frisee Aux Lardons

Adapted from French Farmhouse Cookbook; by Susan Herrman Loomis, & Workman Publishing Company.

Thanks for visiting us for Monique Martin's version of a French classic (and thanks for listening to Weekend All Things Considered!). Actually, Monique's favorite way to make this salad is with dandelion greens, in which case she calls it "Salade de Pissenlits aux Pommes et aux Lardons" -- but chances are, you won't find dandelion greens at your local supermarket. Most restaurants serve the salad with frisee lettuce, and toss in big, crusty croutons instead of apples, to give crunch. Create your own favorite version. This recipe serves four. --Daniel Zwerdling

For poaching the eggs:

  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 4 large eggs

    For the salad:
  • 1/2 lb frisee lettuce, washed and dried and cut into large bite-size pieces(escarole will do as a replacement -- but don't use any more fragile lettuce that will wilt under hot dressing)
  • 1/2 pound thick slab bacon, rind removed, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 T olive oil, if needed
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large crisp, tart apple, cut into 16 slices, lengthwise
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and diced
  • 2 T high-quality red wine vinegar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Pour water to a depth of 3" in a large saucepan, add the vinegar, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Break one of the eggs into a small bowl. Adjust heat so the water is at a rolling boil, and slide the egg into the spot where the bubbles emerge from the bottom of the pan. Add as many of the eggs as will fit comfortably without crowding. Reduce heat and simmer until the whites are solid but the yolks are soft, about 3 minutes. Remove eggs, one at a time, with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl of very warm salted water, to keep them hot. (If you aren't going to serve the salad within 15 minutes, keep the poached eggs in room temperature water instead, and just serve them lukewarm.)

    Saute bacon over medium-high heat and brown on all sides, stirring frequently, for about seven minutes. If the bacon hardly has any fat and the pan starts getting dry (which is unlikely in the U.S., where bacon tends to be fattier than in France), add the olive oil at this point.

    While the bacon is browning, melt the butter in another skillet over medium- high heat until sizzling hot. Add the apple slices and sautee until slightly golden and nearly soft through, but still holding their shapes, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

    When the bacon is all crusty and golden, drain off all but 3 T of the fat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until it begins to turn golden on the edges, about 1 minute. Then stir in the vinegar, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Some of the vinegar will evaporate, creating a stinging cloud of steam, so avert your eyes for a few moments as you stir.

    Pour the bacon and the hot cooking juices over the greens and toss. Add the applec slices and their cooking juices, plus the shallots,  and toss quickly. Then season with salt, if necessary, and a generous amount of pepper. This salad is traditionally served rather vinegary, so if it doesn't have quite enough vinegar flavor, sprinkle on a bit more to taste.

    Quickly divide salad among four plates, top each mound with a warm poached egg... and eat! Don't forget the warm, crusty bread...