From Brasserie Beck to Balthazar, a bistro wouldn't be the same without the quintessential frisée salad on the menu. Often accented with salty bacon (lardons) and a poached egg ready to ooze its deep yellow yolk, frisée salad makes for a delightful light meal or salad course. Frisée salad with sherry vinaigrette, poached egg and bacon is easy to make at home if you understand the methods of making a vinaigrette, and poaching eggs.
First, a vinaigrette is usually a tart dressing, and is a great counterpoint to salty bacon. In general, the method of making a vinaigrette calls for 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, or sherry vinegar in this case. You can use your choice of oils and the acid can come from other sources such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or even lemon juice. Once the acid is placed in a bowl, you can flavor your vinaigrette with other ingredients, herbs and spices. To this, oil is slowly poured in while the mixture is vigorously whisked to form an emulsion.
The second method you will use to make this salad is poaching an egg. There are various schools of thought when it comes to poaching eggs. For me, the most consistently successful method involves adding plain white vinegar or lemon juice to simmering water, and dropping a pre-cracked egg in slowly. Cracking each egg before hand ensures two things: that the egg is good and that the yolk is intact. The acid helps to bring the egg yolk and white together. Once the egg white has been gathered (it very often forms a "tail", but don't let that deter you-it can be cut off for appearances) the egg cooks in the simmering water for 2-3 minutes, depending on how well you want the yolk done. I find that once I get the egg set in the water, 2 minutes on a timer is perfect.
Frisée Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette, Bacon and Poached Egg
2 Tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
1 large or 2 small heads frisée
4 eggs, cracked and placed in individual ramekins
8 slices bacon, fried and cut into strips
1 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place a pot of water (at least 3 inches deep) on high heat and bring to a strong simmer. Decrease heat and hold water at a slow simmer until you are ready to poach eggs.
Wash and thoroughly dry frisée and place in a mixing bowl. Pour vinegar in separate bowl, add mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil while whisking to incorporate. Taste for salt and adjust. Toss frisée with vinaigrette to lightly coat and portion frisée onto 4 plates. Divide bacon among the salads.
Gently drop each egg into the simmering water along the edge of the pan. Gather the whites around the yolk with a slotted spoon and be sure to give each egg enough room to cook. Poach eggs for 2 minutes,and remove them with the slotted spoon in the order you placed them in the water. Drain eggs on a paper towel and place one egg atop each salad. Serve immediately*.
* Poached eggs can be prepared ahead of time and reheated before serving. Simply place eggs into ice water when done cooking (you may want to under cook them a bit), drain, and store covered in the refrigerator. To reheat, bring a pot of water to a simmer and allow eggs to heat up in the water for 1 minute.