Thursday, March 27, 2008

Frisée aux lardons (Warm chicory with bacon)

Frisée (free-ZAY) aux lardons is a classic French bistro salad with spicy chicory lettuce, bacon pieces, croutons or toasty bread, and often a poached egg. The vinaigrette and the runny yolk from the poached egg blend to create a creamy sauce over this delicious and filling salad.

Frisée is a cousin of radicchio, Treviso, green endive, and escarole and is often part of a mesclun salad mix. But, to confuse the issue, it is called different things depending on where you live.

British : Chicory
US : Beligan endive
French : Witloof

British : Curly endive
US : Curly endive
French : Chicorée frisée

In Canada, it was labeled “Chicory lettuce” at the grocery store so maybe that’s our British roots showing through yet again.

It has a slightly peppery, nutty, and bitter taste. As for looks, it is frizzy, curly, and feathery. It ranges in color from yellow or light green to dark green. Try to find the lighter colored frisée since it is less bitter than the darker green. (I, however, didn’t know this tidbit when I was at the grocery store.)

To prepare, tear the frisée with your hand. Wash it just before serving. You can refrigerate frisée in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.

Lardons are strips of bacon or pork that are blanched and fried until they are crispy. They add a crunchy texture and a salty, smoky flavor to the salad.

In France, you can buy Lardons pre-packaged ready to fry up at home. We’re not so lucky in Canada.

Poached Eggs
For the poached egg part of this dish, use the freshest eggs possible to get the nicest shape during poaching. As it turns out, I’ve never poached an egg in simmering water before. I’ve always used some sort of gadget. Well, never again since it was so easy.

The water needs to be right below a boil. Adding a small amount of vinegar to the water prevents the whites of the egg from dispersing into the water enabling the egg to remain round.

You can even make poached eggs 2 days ahead and rewarm them in simmering water for about 30 seconds.

There’s a great website dedicated to the poached egg! And here’s a great video on how to poach an egg.

A vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Flavorings such as mustard, salt, and pepper are sometimes used. Always whisk the vinegar and flavorings first, and then whisk in the oil.

Watch a pro
I found this humorous video of Martha Stewart teaching Martin Short how to make Frisée aux lardons.

Recipe for Frisée aux lardons

adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

(The picture shows the original recipe ingredients. I’ve scaled it for 1 serving.)

Serves 1

1 handful of chicory lettuce
2 ounces bacon, diced

Poached egg:
⅛ cup white vinegar
1 egg

¾ teaspoon sherry vinegar (or half red wine vinegar and half cooking sherry)
⅛ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 slice of bread, cut and toasted

Tear leaves from the chicory, wash and spin dry.

In a skillet, sauté the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the oil and whisk to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bring a pot of water to almost a boil. Add the white vinegar. Carefully drop in the egg. Let cook for 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the egg and

While the egg is poaching, toast the bread.

Toss the chicory with the vinaigrette. Add the bacon. Put the poached egg on top and serve with the toasted bread.

Tasting Notes
I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this salad was. I was expecting a more bitter taste, but the creaminess of the egg yolk blended with the flavor from the sherry vinaigrette masked the bitterness in the chicory. The bacon added a nice crunch and saltiness to the salad too. It’s a quick and easy lunch.

Next time I would buy some delicious bread to use on the side. I used what I had on hand, which is more kid-friendly than gourmet-friendly. I’ve also seen recipes with shallots sautéed with the bacon, and that would be tasty too. Also, I didn’t have sherry vinegar on hand, so it would be good to try that. As with any vinegar, you can get luxury versions aged in oak for years. But given I only needed ¾ of a teaspoon, I used what I had on hand! Garlic, pancetta, and Gruyère cheese are other variations to enhance this salad.

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $257.70 + $3.85 = $261.55

Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 19.5 tablespoons


noskos said...

Your translations for the white variety are not the right ones, in French it is endive ou chicon, witlo(o)f is the Dutch (or Belgian, parts of Belgium speaks Dutch) name and translate loosely to "white leaf"

Your salad looks great! Here in Holland we use the none curly version most of the time which we boil and serve next to boiled potatoes, or raw through mashed potatoes with lardons, yummy :-)

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

There seems to be a lot of confusion around the naming of this "lettuce". Thanks for helping clarify the terminology. :)

Susan @ SGCC said...

I had this dish when I visited Paris and loved it. Thanks for the recipe. Now, I can make it myself!

Anonymous said...

i wish i liked frisee, because i love everything else about this salad.

also, perfect timing:i've just declared poached eggs to be the official foodie trend of spring 2008!

Anonymous said...

Looks delicious! I'll have to try it one of this days. Thanks for the recipe and for your comment on my blog!

Anonymous said...

Loved the Martin Short video!! This is a very educational and fun blog!