Known in French as “Salade Lyonnaise”, this Frisée with Bacon & Egg is standard French Bistro fare, served as a “salades-repas” (a meal-size salad, which is very popular among the rushed lunch-time working crowd). The combination of bitter frisée, salty bacon bits, barely cooked eggs, crispy croutons and sharp vinaigrette is a humble yet luxurious eating experience.
And even though this recipe hails from Lyon (known as the gastronomic capital of France), any local will tell you that you don’t necessarily need to go to the city to have a taste of it. Proof is, Clotilde Dusoulier (Paris-based food writer and founder of the award-winning blog Chocolate & Zucchini) offers us her very own version of this luscious salad in her new cookbook, “Tasting Paris”.
Clotilde has been one of my favorite food bloggers for years (even before I contemplated the idea of food blogging, myself). She is everything a food blogger should be: her tone is real, relatable and most importantly, she gets you excited about daily cooking.
I received Clotilde’s new book “Tasting Paris” in the mail a week ago and it has been so difficult to get my hands off of it since then. Simply put, this is how every cookbook about French food should be.
It’s a saavy mix of striking lifestyle and food photography, classic and modern French recipes, sprinkled with some Parisian-lifestyle anecdotes. What I love most, is that beyond all the timeless French-Bistro fare (like roast chicken, profiteroles – gloriously posing on the book’s cover– or this Frisee with bacon & egg), Clotilde show us how locals really eat today – be it a Pita Sandwich drizzled in Tahini sauce, a spiralized Zucchini & Peach Salad or Armenian Byoreks.
This book is a real gem and is sure to be one of your classics if you’re into French Cuisine. I highly recommend it if you’re earning for authentic, real recipes from today’s Paris (and not another book of cliche-filled recipes…).
It’s both a nostalgic love letter to the city and an insider’s look at a Paris, that’s fully embracing the modern take and ethnic influences – something only a native Parisienne like Clotilde can do.
I love how Clotilde offers room for customization in this recipe – there’s no cook left behind, which is kind of her signature.
A Lyonnaise Salad is classicly made with poached eggs (so the runny yolk oozes into the salad and acts as a velvety dressing). But as an easier alternative, Clotilde suggests a switch to hard-boiled eggs, slightly undercooked to still get that creamy yolk.
And while the French can easily find “lardons” at the grocery store, Clotilde makes a switch for thick-cut bacon, sliced across the grain into short matchsticks.
For the frisée salad though (a French’s favorite!), I should mentiont hat I had a slightly difficult time finding it in my regular supermarket and had to go to my local Country Market where frisée was CA$12.99/lbs. Which, yes granted, is a bit pricey for a salad (although I felt it was quite worth the splurge for this recipe…). As an alternative, Clotilde suggests using dandelion greens or chopped escarole.
Toss in crunchy croutons and a drizzle of vinaigrette, and there you have a classic French dish that’s effortlessly straight out of your kitchen.
Here’s great example of how French cuisine is a far stretch from being a strict art to obey to the letter.
As per Clotilde’s approach, there are always alternatives and room to make each recipe your own – depending on your tastes, cooking skills and budget.
For the salad
5 slices (about 5 ounces/150g) thick-cut bacon, cut into short, thin strips to make lardons (see note)
8 cups (160g) frisée lettuce (also called chicory or curly endive), dandelion greens, or chopped escarole
4 Steamed Hard-Boiled Eggs, shelled and halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
For the bistro vinaigrette
1 tbsp finely diced shallot
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp wine vinegar, red or white
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
6 tbsp neutral oil, such as sunflower seed, grapeseed or canola
Freshly ground pepper (white if available)
For the croutons
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup (55g) cubed day-old sourdough bread or baguette
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the vinaigrette
In a medium bowl, combine the shallots, salt and vinegar with a wooden spoon. Let rest for 10 minutes to take the edge of the shallot. Stir in the mustard. Pour in the oil slowly, stirring all the while to create an emulsion. Sprinkle generously with pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The dressing can be prepared a few hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Leftover vinaigrette keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge, in a glass jar with a tight lid.
For the quick croutons
In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When it foams, add the bread and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. The croutons will crisp up as they cool.
For the Steamed Hard-Boiled Eggs
Set up a steamer, bringing the water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by placing a dozen ice cubes in a medium bowl and filling it with cold water. Put the eggs in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 7 to 12 minutes, depending on how you want your eggs - soft-boiled to hard-boiled. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath using a slotted spoon or tongs to cool completely. To peel, tap each egg gently on the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel it off. Unpeeled hard-boiled eggs will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
For the salad
In a dry skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Scoop it into a bowl. (Keep the rendered fat for another use.)
In a large salad bowl, dress the frisée with the vinaigrette. Divide the frisée among salad plates, forming nests. Top with the halved eggs and sprinkle with the bacon strips, croutons and chives.
(Clotilde's Note) French cooks typically use bacon in the form of lardons, short and thin stripes of pork belly, which they purchase pre-sliced and ready to cook. To make your own, get thick-cut bacon and slice it across the grain into short matchsticks.
Recipe By Clotilde Dusoulier, from Tasting Paris.