Hurray! A new cookbook! I think Firat has figured out that if he buys me new cookbooks about the types of cuisine he likes, they end up on the table a little more often. The cuisines. Not the books. So I can only assume he’s encouraging more French food with Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. I dived into it immediately, marking up more than two dozen recipes I wanted to try, but the one that stood out the most was a simple salad. Dorie’s bacon and eggs and asparagus salad looked like the perfect place to start. Of course, being without hazelnuts or hazelnut oil in the house, I had to make a few minor changes.
The biggest surprise was her method of preparing the eggs. They’re supposed to go straight from the fridge into boiling water. This seemed contradictory to every recipe for boiled eggs I’ve ever read! But I went with it, preparing 4 eggs instead of 2 as a safety net, and not a single egg cracked. (I learned afterward that the salted water though not able to prevent the eggs from cracking, would help the white congeal quickly and help keep the egg whole were there a crack). The still-soft eggs are finished by being peeled whole, then gently sauteed in the bacon drippings just until they’re warmed through. The result was as good an egg as I’ve ever encountered. The white was set, yet tender and the yolk was luscious and velvety. Truly, I see little reason to ever poach an egg again!
Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad
Adapted and paraphrased from “Around My French Table”
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side
For the Dressing:
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice (my addition, I like some bright acid to complement the deep, rich sherry vinegar)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Dorie’s recipe is for 1 tbsp evoo, 1 tbsp hazelnut oil)
pinch of sugar
For the Salad:
4 extremely cold eggs
Half a bunch of asparagus, trimmed
4 large strips of bacon
3 handfuls baby salad greens
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts or walnuts (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dijon, vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of well salted water to a low boil. One by one, gently lower the eggs down with a spoon. Have your timer ready for 6 minutes, you don’t want them to boil for any longer. Remove pan from heat and set directly under cold running water in your sink. Continue running until the pan’s water is completely cold. Leave them here in the cold water until you’re ready for them.
In a medium skillet, bring salted water to a simmer. Drop in the asparagus and simmer for 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness, until they’ve lost their crunch but arn’t mushy. Remove and pat dry on paper towels.
Dump out the water, place the dry skillet over medium heat and lay in the bacon. Cook the bacon over medium-low heat, flipping as needed until golden and crisp. Remove the strips and let drain on paper towels. Turn the heat off, but leave the skillet on the burner.
To assemble the salad, toss the lettuce in 3/4 of the dressing and place on a platter, topping it with some fresh cracked pepper and salt. Roll the asparagus in the remaining dressing and layer over top the greens. Chop the bacon into bits and sprinkle around platter.
When you’re ready to serve, very, very gently peel the eggs. Take your time with it, as the eggs are soft and delicate. Rinse off any bits of shell and pat them dry. Gently spoon them into the bacon drippings skillet over medium heat and gingerly roll them around in the bacon fat until they’re covered and allow them to get just a hit of golden brown on each side. You don’t want them in the pan for more than 2 minutes. With a spoon, place them overtop the salad and serve immediately. Make sure you have some nice flaky sea salt and additional black pepper for your guests to season their eggs as they like.
So there you have it. We shared a wonderful small steak on the side, and though a lovely Parisian complement to the meal, it was outshined by this salad. Apologies for not taking some in-progress pictures, but then I didn’t expect the eggs to be such a success on our first try! That to me proves what an exceptional cookbook this is. Dorie is precise and thorough with her writing. Much like Julia Child’s recipes, you’re never left wondering if what you’re doing is right or not. I really can’t wait to take on another recipe and that just might happen later tonight.