Salade Francillon is a simple but costly entrée that was made famous in a play called "Francillon" by Alexander Dumas. Dumas was also the author of "La Dame aux Camelias" ("Camille"), which was the basis for Verdi's 1853 opera, La Traviata. Here is a quote about how to make this salad that was described by one of the actors in the play:
published in The New York Times on February 13, 1887
Truffles, Champagne, mussels. This dish has been described as a special occasion salad. In my books, it’s just a fancy potato salad.
Recipe for Salade Francillon
1 pound baby potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds mussels
1 cup Champagne
¼ teaspoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
½ tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the potatoes: Rinse the potatoes but do not peel them. Put them in a saucepan with the chicken stock to cover. Add water if necessary. Add salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just tender when pierced with the end of a knife, about 15 minutes. Remove the potatoes and drain under cold water, but reserve the stock. When cool to the touch, peel and slice them into thin rounds.
For the mussels: Using the reserved stock from the potatoes, steam the mussels.
For the truffles: In small saucepan, combine Champagne and truffles. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. Slice truffles.
For the vinaigrette: In mixing bowl, combine tarragon, parsley, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Pour over potatoes and mussels. Toss gently but thoroughly.
Arrange the salad and serve.
The mussels give this potato salad its main dish appeal. The truffles give it an air of sophistication, but it would be nice without them as well if you don't have any hiding in your pantry.
Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 21 tablespoons