This Salade Frisée might sound a little odd, but like so many French dishes that sound a little daunting, it’s actually seriously delicious!
The first time I had Salade Frisée was back in 2007 at Chez Georges, a little restaurant in the Rue de Mail in Paris. Established in 1964, Chez Georges is a traditional French bistro near the banks of the Seine, lined with mirrors and decorated in the style of the 1920‘s and 30‘s.
When my husband Guy was a child, he used to go to Chez Georges regularly with his parents. When we visited in 2007, he had not been there in years. However, as soon as Guy mentioned his name and when he used to visit, the owner and staff remembered his family.
We were welcomed like old friends, and the owner was excited to meet our son, Alexander, who was then aged about 14. We enjoyed Salade Frisée aux Lardons, followed by Steak Frites. The food and service were impeccable, and after the meal, we were offered ‘un digestif’ (a glass of liqueur) free of charge. In France young people are allowed to drink in restaurants with a meal. Alexander was thrilled to be given his own digestif, just as generously full as the ones given to us. It was one of those meals we’ll remember forever. They really did treat us so well.
But back to the Salade Frisée. Salad Frisée is one of the original Chez George’s signature dishes, traditionally served as a starter. Crispy bits of bacon (lardons) are fried and used to garnish a lightly dressed salad topped with poached eggs. As the egg yolk drips into the lettuce it becomes part of the dressing. The contrast of this with the salty tang of the bacon is just amazing.
What Is Frisée?
Traditionally a type of green known as frisée is used for this salad. It’s a woody, frizzy type of chicory and its bitter flavour works really well. However, when I am making this dish at home I often use assorted mixed lettuces because frisée can be quite hard to find in England.
What Are Lardons?
Lardons are small cubes of fatty bacon. The word dates from late middle English, spoken from 1066 to about 1500, and is the same in both English and French.
How Do I Poach Eggs?
Can I Visit Chez Georges?
Chez Georges was later sold by the original owners but it eventually reopened under new ownership and is still in business today. They close in August for their holiday, but the restaurant is due to reopen on 2 September 2020. We have not visited recently, but I have always enjoyed our meals there.
How Should I Serve Salade Frisée?
Salade Frisée makes a delicious starter or light lunch. (In the latter instance, you may want to serve the salad with two poached eggs per person.) For an authentic French restaurant experience, serve Salade Frisée aux Lardons followed by Steak Frites (steak and French fries). We always enjoyed this combination when we dined at Chez Georges.
Be sure everyone is seated at the table before you poach the eggs. It’s really important that the eggs are hot when you serve the salad.
Salade Frisée aux Lardons – Printable Recipe
Salade Frisée aux Lardons
- 1 cup of chopped lardons lardons are small chunks of bacon or pancetta
- 4 eggs
- 4 - 6 cups frisée or mixed lettuces, washed, well drained and torn in bite size chunks (I confess I have used bagged salad more than once.)
- 3 tablespoons mild olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Place the lettuces in a large bowl.
- In a large shaker or clean jam jar with a lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard and sugar. Pour over the lettuces and toss together.
- Boil your water ready for the poached eggs. Divide the salad between the plates.
- Meanwhile, fry the lardons over medium heat until they are crispy. Drain, set aside and keep warm.
- Ask everyone to come and sit down at the table. You want the eggs to be hot when people eat the salad. When everyone is seated, poach the eggs.
- Top each plate of salad with a poached egg. Sprinkle with the bacon lardons and serve immediately. Encourage people to break the poached eggs open so the egg can bathe the salad in gorgeousness. Wait for everyone to take a bite, and for the quizzical expressions on their faces to turn to joyful amazement. It won’t take long.