Salad Lyonnaise, or Salade Lyonnaise, is the impressive-sounding name for what is simply a good salad recipe. It comes from the city of Lyon and is one of the best-known recipes in Lyonnaise cuisine. (It also happens to be one of my favorite French salads.)
Some background on cuisine Lyonnaise
Lyonnaise cuisine, or cuisine Lyonnaise, is rich with centuries-old tradition. It centers around a bounty of ingredients pulled from neighboring regions. Because if its central location, Lyon is the beneficiary of many of France’s greatest natural products. Along with salade Lyonnaise, famous Lyonnaise dishes include sauce Lyonnaise, which is a luscious finishing sauce great for pork or poultry. But my favorite Lyonnaise dish, aside from this salad Lyonnaise, is pommes de terre à la Lyonnaise, or Lyonnaise potatoes.
These pan fried potatoes cooked with loads of butter make an unforgettable side dish and would even pair well with this fairly simple salad recipe. In fact, this version of a Lyonnaise salad uses a version of the potatoes cooked in the fat of the lardons.
An American version of salad Lyonnaise
This rendition of a salad Lyonnaise comes to us from Chef Josh Silvers, formerly of beloved restaurant Syrah and now chef/owner of Jackson’s Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa, California. So you might say it’s an American version of this classic, French dish. He shares it from the cookbook Down Home Downtown: Seasonal Recipes from Two Sonoma Wine Country Restaurants.
I love the simplicity with which Josh puts together this classic, French salad. And I like his spin, which takes cubes of potato cooked in the bacon fat to add texture and substance. I think you’re going to love it, too. And you’ll especially love how easy it is to recreate at home. Best of all, with frisee and egg as the main ingredients, it’s a salad you can make year-round, even in seasons when many other salad ingredients are hard to find.
Why this salad is a date night recipe
You probably knew at some point in this introduction to Josh’s salad Lyonnaise recipe I would discuss the merits of serving a salad for a romantic dinner. If you don’t think a salad can be aphrodisiac, you need to try this dish.
For starters, Salad Lyonnaise is a dish traditionally topped with a slippery, silken poached egg. Should you have any doubts about this ingredient’s aphrodisiac appeal, here’s more about the aphrodisiac history of eggs. Then there’s the bacon. You can argue that the crunch of salty bacon lacks scientific proof of its aphrodisiac appeal. But we’ve amassed enough anecdotal evidence to believe.
The two very different flavors and textures of crisp bacon and poached eggs get treated to a bed of feathery frisee, crisp potatoes and an emulsification of smoky bacon fat and tangy salad dressing. So even if you’re not willing to buy into the aphrodisiac properties of this Salad Lyonnaise, you know what? You’re still going to find it irresistible!
Frisee Salad Lyonnaise
- 6 slices apple-wood smoked bacon cut into 1/4" sticks (lardons)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 4 lg eggs
- 8 cup frisee or curly endive small yellow and pale green leaves only, rinsed and dried
- 1/4 cup chipped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup reserved hot bacon fat plus olive oil if needed
- 1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a medium skillet, saute the lardons over medium heat until crisp and brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain the fat from the pan into a glass measuring cup and reserve. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lardons to paper towels to drain.
- Add the olive oil, potatoes and the shallots to the hot pan and saute until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
for the vinaigrette
- Add olive oil to the reserved bacon fat if necessary to make 1/3 cup.
- In a small bowl, combine the bacon fat, sherry vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, mustard and 3 grinds of pepper. Whisk until well combined.
- Set aside and keep warm.
for the eggs
- In a deep saute pan over medium heat, bring 2 inches of water to a simmer.
- Add the cream of tartar and stir to dissolve.
- Break each egg into a small bowl and gently slide the eggs, one at a time, into the simmering water. Poach until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a plate.
- In a large bowl, toss the frisee with the vinaigrette.
- Add the lardons, potatoes, shallots and parsley. Toss again and divide among 4 serving plates.
- Top each with a poached egg and serve.
- Pair with Rodney Strong Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
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