Salad Lyonnaise sounds fancy doesn't it? And it sounds decadent with poached eggs and a warm bacon dressing. But really it's a contradiction: fancy looking, but prepared in less than 30 minutes; rich tasting, but a fairly light meal.
I bought first crop Honeycrisp apples the other day and maybe I should be craving hearty stews and roasted chicken, but the weather isn't cooperating. It's September, but temperatures still climb to the 80s and even low 90s some days. So, for now, I'm still craving salad.
Many famous dishes began in the French city of Lyon: Coq au vin, Lyonnaise potatoes, Sauce Lyonnaise, and, of course Salad (Salade) Lyonnaise. It's a salad that we sought out on our last visit to France and one that we often make at home.
The main components of Salad Lyonnaise are Frisée lettuce, with it's frilly leaves and delicately bitter flavor; a warm bacon dressing, with the bacon cut into thin, crosswise strips called lardons; and perfectly poached eggs. The bacon dressing is simple to make and when I can't find Frisée in the grocery store, I swap in curly endive. It has a firmer bite, but stands in nicely. It's poaching the eggs that can be a challenge, but there are a couple of tricks to make it easier.
How to Poach an Egg
There are a lot of strong opinions about the best method for poaching eggs; here are a couple of steps that work well for me: drain the thin liquid from the white before poaching and create a vortex in the simmering water before adding the egg(s).
- Creating a vortex in the simmering water is simply stirring the simmering water just before you slip in the egg(s).
- To drain off the thin white, you'll need a couple of small bowls and a large, finely slotted spoon or a fine mesh strainer. Set the slotted spoon or mesh strainer over one bowl and carefully crack the egg into it, the liquid will drain out leaving the thicker white intact. Then slip the drained egg into the second bowl.
To poach, slide eggs into 2 inches of simmering water that you've stirred into a vortex. After 15 or 20 seconds, gently rotate eggs to help them take shape (I like to gently flip them over a couple of times after about 2 minutes, ending with the yolk facing up). Simmer for a total of 4 minutes, until the white is set and yolk is soft (longer if you prefer a jammy yolk). Lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any water.
One other note is about vinegar. Many poached egg recipes suggest adding it to help keep the eggs together, but I can always taste it. So my 2-cents is to skip it.
How to Reheat Poached Eggs
You can serve poached eggs immediately or make them up to 5 days ahead! (Make ahead brunch anyone?) To poach eggs ahead of time: transfer poached eggs immediately to a lidded container filled with very cold water and refrigerate. When you're ready to serve, transfer the eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl of very hot tap water and let stand 2 minutes. Drain, blot dry with a paper towel and serve!
Other Must Try French Recipes
- Lyonnaise Potatoes
- French Onion Soup or Vegetarian French Onion Soup
- Coq au Vin Blanc
- Nicoise Salad
- Savory Crepes
- Baked Eggs
- Chouquettes (French Pastry Sugar Puffs)
- Brioche Dinner Rolls
- Duck Leg Confit
- Jambon-Beurre Sandwich
- French 75 Cocktail
How to Make Salad Lyonnaise
Step 1: Make dressing: Cut bacon slices into ¼-inch wide strips crosswise. Cook until crisp in olive oil. Add shallot and cook until softened, then mustard and vinegar. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
Step 2: Poach eggs and transfer to paper towel.
Step 3: Reheat dressing if necessary and pour over frisee lettuce in a large salad bowl. Toss to coat completely. Divide salad among 4 serving plates and top each with a poached egg; serve.
- 16 ounces frisee lettuce torn into bite size pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 slices lean, thick cut bacon cut crosswise into ¼" strips
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- Add frisee to a large bowl.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; cook and stir until crisp. Add shallot and cook until softened, about one minute. Add mustard and vinegar; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.
- Optional Step: to drain the watery white from each egg, crack egg over a large finely slotted spoon or fine mesh strainer set over a bowl; slide drained egg into a second small bowl or ramekin. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring two inches of water to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Stir water to create a vortex - this will help the whites stay together. Gently slide eggs into water, gently rotating them after 15 seconds and gently flipping after 2 minutes or so with a rubber spatula (be sure the yolk is facing up before lifting eggs out). Cook eggs until white is set, about 4 minutes. Lift each egg out with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
- If your dressing has cooled, reheat it briefly. Pour dressing over frisee and toss toss to coat.
- Divide salad between 4 serving plates and top each with a poached egg. Serve.
- See notes in blog post about poaching eggs up to 5 days in advance.