Monday, December 10, 2007

Franco-Americana

There are, sadly, those days that just start off wrong. Preceeded by insomnia and foreshadowed with a wrong number at 5am, the day dawns dimly. Noon comes, and you are hungry, jittery from the black coffee breakfast, and generally in a foul mood. What you should do is eat some soup and get back into bed, white flag waving, but that would just mean Tuesday would begin like a Monday--full of the undone. The alternative? Something befitting a cold, crisp winter day--a mix of flavors, a little bit rich but not so decadent that the afternoon is shot. Some modicum of nutrition can be good too...My solution? Introduce Mr. Waldorf to Sr. Lardon, a salad that is green and crisp, studded with tart pink lady apples, and surprising with little bits of bacon tucked behind its leaves. A sharp vingrette with mustard cuts the fat, and a poached egg on top cuts the vinegar. It is a meal in itself, or the beginning to the kind of meal that tucks you in at 8pm, fat and happy...

A head of tender lettuces--I used a mix of baby gem and red leaf, but whatever looks fresh will do.
One small head radicchio
Three slices of bacon (applewood smoked is nice)
One pink lady (or other tart and crisp) apple
Almost equal parts good olive oil and champagne or white wine or maybe even red wine vinegar
A spoonful of dijon or whole grain mustard, to taste
A dash of honey
Salt and pepper
As many eggs as people, the freshest you can find.

Serves 2-3 as a meal, more as a starter

There are two ways to do the eggs--semi-hard boiled if you are lazy, poached if you are ambitious. For the former, put your eggs in a pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off the water and let sit for 5 or so minutes. Do this when you are nearing the end of your salad making, or after you are done if it makes your life easier.
To poach, bring water to a boil with a little salt and vinegar in it. When you are ready to poach (JUST! before you serve) turn down the water to just the slightest simmer, crack one egg at a time into a bowl, and slowly and gently slide into the water. Cook for 2 min, then fish out with a skimmer or large spoon.

  • Slice the bacon crosswise so you get small pieces. Discard fatty ends.
  • Toss into a pan at semi-high heat and let bacon crisp and render. Stir occasionally.
  • While you are doing that, wash lettuce if unwashed and pat dry. Put into a large bowl.
  • Slice the apple in thin slivers. Toss into bowl with greens.
  • When the bacon is done to your liking, take the little pieces out of the pan and put on a plate with a paper towel to drain.
  • Drain off most of the bacon fat, then put the pan back on the stove on pretty high heat. Cut the raddiccio in four pieces and put into pan. Let the raddichio brown to your liking--the longer it's on there, the more mellow it will be, and the softer. If you take it off earlier, you will have a mix of textures--some bits cooked, some bits still raw and escarole-bitter. You choose. When they are done, take off the heat and slice lengthwise into ribbons. Toss into bowl.
  • In a jar with a top or a cup, put oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine. If your eggs are ready or near ready, pour dressing over contents of bowl and toss. Plate, then put eggs atop--if poached, the yolk will get runny and good as soon as people bite in. If hard boiled, it is a nice counterpoint to slice the egg in half and put yellows up nicely on the plate. Finish with some freshly cracked pepper. Dig in.

1 comment:

Elra said...

Poach egg sound delicious, though I love mine over easy please.
Cheers,
Elra