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Frisée Salad with Lardons

Yield 8
The Odeon, in New York City, which opened in 1980, foreshadowed the bistro trend of the late Nineties. The restaurant has had this classic salad on its menu from day one.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound lean slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups diced baguette (1/2 inch)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 8 large eggs
  • Peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Two 1-pound heads frisée, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

How to Make It

  1. In a large skillet, cook half the bacon over moderate heat until just crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and repeat with the remaining bacon. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat into a small glass measuring cup.

  2. Reheat the bacon fat in the skillet. Add the diced baguette and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer the croutons to a plate to cool. Toss in the bowl with the bacon.

  3. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. Add the white wine vinegar. Break 1 of the eggs into a small cup and slide the egg into the water. Repeat with 3 more eggs. Simmer over moderate heat until the whites are firm and the yolks are soft, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached eggs to a large platter lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Keep the poaching water at a low simmer.

  4. Measure the reserved bacon fat into a large skillet. Add enough peanut oil to equal 1/3 cup. Add the shallots, season generously with salt and pepper and cook over low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and remove the dressing from the heat.

  5. Return the poached eggs to the simmering water to reheat for 30 to 40 seconds. Bring the dressing back to a simmer over low heat. Add the frisée to the bacon and croutons in the bowl, add the hot dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Mound the salad in serving bowls or on plates and top each with a poached egg. Serve at once.

  6. Make Ahead: The eggs can be poached up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before reheating. Place in a saucepan of simmering water for 30 to 40 seconds, drain, pat dry and serve.

  7. Wine Recommendation: A dry but fruity red with good acidity and a slight earthiness, such as a Beaujolais-Villages, can balance the flavors in this salad. Two good choices: the 1999 Louis Jadot and the 1999 Georges Duboeuf Flower Label.