Bacon. Eggs. Toast.

As Mark and I sat down to eat our (mostly) healthy supper of Salade Lyonnaise, he looked at it and said, "I get it! Bacon, eggs and toast on a salad!" I hadn't thought of it that way before, but he was right.  That is pretty much all it is.  But it is so tasty and has all my favorite elements: health (salad), allure (anything food + French) and comfort (bacon, eggs, toast).

What you see here today in my photos is not an official Salade Lyonnaise.  To be official, the lettuce used must be frisée. And the bacon really should be French lardons - not a smoky American cut.  However, when cleaning out the refrigerator to avoid waste, I used what I had on hand - a combination of mâche (lamb's lettuce) and romaine, with some maple-smoked bacon.  No one (well, neither Mark nor I) complained.

I had my very first Salade Lyonnaise in - believe it or not - Lyon, France!  I was traveling from Paris to Grenoble to celebrate the wedding of my good friends Patrick and Donna, who were studying abroad. The TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) from Paris only went as far as Lyon, where I had to change to a less fast, but still very comfortable, ride a little further south and east.  I had time between trains to grab lunch and a chocolat chaud so that I wouldn't be starving upon arrival.

In the station restaurant, I did what the locals do - and ordered this local specialty salad without any idea it would come topped with a poached egg. 'Really?' I remember thinking, "A runny egg on a salad?' But it worked... oh, how it worked! The yolk adds a wonderfully unctuous quality to the dressing and really helps to satisfy you.

I looked around for different recipes and found quite a few.  As with most 'traditional' recipes, the tradition differs from home to home. The recipe I offer is a combination of several, and worked quite nicely, even without the proper ingredients.

Bon appetit!

- David

Salade Lyonnaise 

3 strips bacon 
2 slices firm French or Italian bread, crusts removed 
olive oil spray 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
2 shallot, finely minced 
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggs 
a large handful each of mâche and shredded romaine lettuce

Cook the bacon on medium heat until done, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let drain of excess fat on a paper towel. Once cool, slice crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Using a serrated bread knife, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and spray with olive oil spray; stir cubes and then spray again to coat all sides.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toast for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally to brown all sides evenly.  When nicely browned, let cool on the baking sheet.

While croutons are baking, heat olive oil and shallot over medium heat to gently cook the shallot.  When shallot is softened, whisk in the vinegar, Dijon mustard and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Set aside, leaving at room temperature.

Poach the eggs your favorite way.

Divide lettuces between two large salad plates.  Scatter the lettuces with bacon and croutons and lightly dress with the vinaigrette (which should still be slightly warm). Top each salad with a poached egg and serve.  This is a perfect excuse to break open a bottle of rosé!

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