Frisee Aux Lardons with Poached Egg

A little while back I had dinner at The Waverly Inn. I had ordered a salad with lardons and a warm vinaigrette with a poached egg on top. It was the perfect way to start a colds night dinner there (that and the truffle macaroni and cheese… side-note: Amazing!). The salad was simple yet complete, and I have thought back to it a few times craving it.

On another day I was reading through my Dean & Deluca Cookbook for inspiration and what did I stumble upon - a recipe for a Frisee Aux Lardons with Warm Vinaigrette. So my interest was sparked and I read on. It sounded similar but lacking in the poached egg so I decided to give it a go and see if it was close to the salad from The Waverly Inn.

It was close… not quite exact, but close. And all in all, it was a very complete dish. I enjoyed it very much. I will say for those that don’t like using salt pork, substitute with slab bacon or pancetta - either would be good for this dish, and both perhaps would make it have a slightly lighter feel to it. My one complaint was from my husband who said that he was disappointed that he didn’t get two eggs on top (You can’t please them all). My one disappointment for myself was that the eggs were just a little more cooked than I like - to which I blame my husband for distracting me.

I plan to definitely make this again. It was quick to make and a really wonderful winter salad. I will admit that next time I will opt for the bacon instead of the salt pork. Enjoy!

Frisee Aux Lardons with Poached Egg: adapted from The Dean & Deluca Cookbook

10 1-inch thick slices of French bread
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb skinned lean and meaty salty pork, cut into 3/4 inch dice
4 shallots, finely chopped
3 tbls red wine vinegar
1 tbls chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tspn chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
12 c frisee, torn into pieces, washed thoroughly and spun dry
6 large eggs
1 tspn salt for every quart of water
1 tspn white wine vinegar for every quart of water

Make the Croutons: Preheat oven to 350°. Brush bot sides of bread slices with 3 tbls of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cut into 1-inch cubes and bake croutons in oven on a baking sheet, shake the pan occasionally, until golden brown 12-15 minutes.

Boil the salt pok in water to cover in a saucepan for 2 minutes and drain in colander. Rinse salt pork under cold water and pat very dry with paper towels.

Heat remaining 1 tbls olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat, and cook salt pork, stirring frequently until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove salt pork with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Pour off all but 1/2 cup of fat from skillet, and add the shallots, red-wine vinegar, herbs and garlic. Cook the dressing, stirring for 4 minutes, or until shallots are wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

To poach eggs: bring at least 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan or skillet, and the salt and vinegar, and lower the heat so the water barely simmers - you want it hot, the kind of heat where bubbles might cling like condensation to the inside walls of the pan - 180 degrees - not a gentle boil.

Crack the egg into a cup then slide it from the cup to the water. The egg should start to set a few seconds after it hits the water and will be ready in 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, when the white is set and the yolk is still runny.

Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a kitchen towel to drain off any water clinging to them. Use them within the next few minutes.

If you are making them in advance, transfer them directly from the hot water to a bowl of ice water. Once cold transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 hours. Reheat them in near boiling water for 15 - 30 seconds , drain on towels and use.

Lastly, in a large bowl toss the frisee, salt pork, croutons, and warm dressing. Divide salads among 6 plates. Top each salad with one poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve.