This hearty salad is one of my favourite entrées, and also makes a great light meal. I became addicted to it on a trip to Lyon where I had an excellent version at the bouchon La Meunière. As with all simple recipes, there’s a trick or two that take it from good to great, like using the fat rendered from the speck to make the warm mustardy dressing.
You should also only use the smallest, tender leaves of the frisée (also called curly endive), saving the rest for something else, like escarole frittata. If you’re ordering this in Lyon, don’t confuse it with the much more substantial Saladier Lyonnais, often served as a succession of dishes involving sheep’s trotters, chicken livers and pickled herrings. I like a rich white Rhône grape with this, such as roussanne or marsanne, La Petite Mort’s barrel-fermented marsanne works especially well. Serves 2 (or 4 as an entrée with 2 extra eggs)
3 slices sourdough bread,
Extra virgin olive oil,
3 handfuls young frisée lettuce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 small golden shallot,
1 tablespoon sweet vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Fat rendered from frying speck
You want a slightly sweet (or agrodolce) vinegar for this dressing, nothing too sharp. Banyuls or a good Sherry vinegar work well; as does Alto Olive’s delicious merlot vinegar.
Cut bread into large cubes and fry in oil until crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain.
Cut speck into thick batons (called lardons). Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan and fry them until crisp. Drain on paper towel, leaving the oil in the pan.
Make Mustard Dressing: combine shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a screw top jar. Add oil and the fat from frying the lardons and shake well to combine.
Toss frisée, speck and croutons with enough Mustard Dressing to just coat the leaves well and divide between 2 flat serving bowls.
Half fill a large saucepan with water, add vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and, when gently simmering, stir to create a whirlpool. One at a time, break the eggs into a saucer and slide into the water.
Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until white is just set then, using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate and pat dry with paper towel.
Place on top of the salad and serve immediately.
Keen to visit Lyon, dubbed ‘the capital of world gastronomy’? Check out my Top 5 Lyon city guide for tips on where to eat, drink and stay and what to see and do.
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Roberta Muir runs Sydney Seafood School and publishes the website Food Wine Travel, where she shares her favourite recipes and latest food, wine and travel discoveries. You can sign up here to receive her regular newsletter of recipes and Top 5 favourite food, wine and travel experiences.