Blonde Frisée Salad with Warm Garlic Crouton, Bacon, Pecorino, Hen Egg & Chives
Bistro classics have enduring appeal, in part because of the virtuoso way they balance the rich comfort of full-flavored cuts of meat with the bright flavors of vinegar or wine. Taking a classic dish and updating it with panache is something Chef loves to do, and this salad is no exception.
The addition of crème fraîche to the vinaigrette is not traditional but it refines the connection between the meaty satisfaction of the lardons and the bracing clarity of vinegar. The salad is typically made with Frisée, aka frilly endive, which belongs to the chicory family. This often maligned salad green has a lot going for it when picked young and prepped with skill. A creamy vinaigrette clings to Frisée’s frilly edges like no other salad green. The blonde variety we use, soft and peppery in flavor, has a wonderful crunch. Other ingredients Chef Ryan incorporates to elevate the dish to an elegant dinner salad ~ without losing its essential bacon and eggs appeal ~ is a handful of mache, finely diced red onion, fresh chives, and a shaving of dry grated pecorino (the kind with lovely salt crystals).
A softer loaf for your croutons will still give you the desired crunch without tearing at the roof of your mouth. All home chefs have their own methods of producing a crouton that has the requisite taste of garlic ~ only rule is to try and avoid the bitterness burnt garlic imparts. At Barndiva, as we make garlic confit almost daily for other dishes, we save the olive oil, fragrant with garlic, for our croutons.
There are two different cuts of Applewood smoked bacon in the salad ~ a thick dice, cooked slowly to melt the fat revealing the fullness of the pork belly, and thin strips of crispy grilled ‘breakfast’ bacon.
These highly addictive pork nuggets are mixed into the salad along with the croutons, while the strip of bacon is strategically placed alongside the fried hen egg, perfect for dipping, triggering that classic bistro moment when the yolk breaks and a golden river flows through the dressed greens. All photos Jil Hales, unless otherwise noted.