I was going to offer today a kind of loose apology. “Sorry, guys, for all of the potatoes and eggs and utter randomness of recipes this winter,” and then shamelessly go onto blame this approaching third-trimester (ack, too soon) situation with its still-unpredictable food cravings I’m in but then I realized: this is actually nothing new. There isn’t a recipe in the almost 9 years and 975-deep archives on this site that hasn’t been fueled wholly by hankerings, usually arbitrary ones. Some people have lesson plans and editorial calendars, I have whims. It’s just now I have a tiny thing — a future rock star, if the dance party from 2 to 6 a.m. last night is indication — to blame for it.
Thus, without apology, is the latest iteration of my ongoing obsession with Salade Lyonniase, which I made for the first time here in 2007, when the only dance parties keeping me up at night were my own. Hailing from Lyon, the salad is traditionally made with bitter lettuce (usually frisee, but escarole, other firm lettuces and frankly, whatever you have around that you like to make salad with, will do), a poached egg and a shallot-bacon vinaigrette, poured warm over the salad, gently wilting everything. In 2012, inspired by a riff on it from the sandwich chain ‘Wichcraft, I started putting it on a bun with a fried egg and with the unconventional addition of blue cheese and it’s been hard to remove it since. And now in 2015, I’ve strayed even further from tradition and turned it into a warm potato salad. Je ne regrette rien.
Warm potato salads don’t always get the love over here that our cold mayo and minced pickle summer versions do, and while I’m eager for the weather associated with them, steaming potatoes accented with crispy salty bits, the richness of a soft egg and a sharp vinaigrette makes a lovely, comforting and luxe weeknight dinner that feels perfect right now between seasons. And yes, I said dinner. It has protein (eggs) and a green vegetable (lettuce), my standards aren’t much higher than that. Prepare to put this meal on repeat.
More potatoes-meet-salads: Last year’s beloved Warm Lentils and Potato Salad, a beloved and seasonally perfect Spring Salad with New Potatoes, the Horseradish Potato Salad I never wait for summer to eat, Alex’s eternal favorite Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Salad, posh Lobster and Potato Salad, and two more mayo-free riffs, one with tzatziki and the other with pesto and green beans.
One year ago: Sizzling Chicken Fajitas
Two years ago: Coconut Bread
Three years ago: Carrot Cake Pancakes
Four years ago: Oat and Maple Syrup Scones
Five years ago: Irish Soda Bread Scones
Six years ago: Penne with Potatoes and Rocket
Seven years ago: Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake and White Bean Stew
Eight years ago: Mighty Russian Morsels and Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad
Potatoes with Soft Eggs and Bacon Vinaigrette
Salade Lyonnaise is traditionally made with poached eggs, and while I’ve got a technique that works pretty well for me [follow along over here], I started making soft-boiled-then-peeled eggs several years ago and haven’t poached a one since — I do so here as well. Crumbled blue cheese isn’t traditional either, but then again neither are potatoes.
Serves 2 to 3 as a meal, 4 if you’ve got another dish out (we also roasted asparagus)
1 1/2 pounds fingerlings, or small red or yukon gold potatoes
4 large eggs
1/4 pound frisee (French curly endive) or another sturdy lettuce
6 ounces slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese, or more to taste
Cook potatoes: In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water, set a timer for 25 minutes (for small red or gold potatoes), and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender but not falling apart, which for small red potatoes usually takes me 25 minutes (fingerlings, because they’re thinner, might be worth checking at 20). Drain and when cool enough to touch, but still hot, halve lengthwise and arrange cut side up on a platter.
Meanwhile, cook eggs: Bring medium saucepan of water to a boil. Lower eggs into it and boil for five (for a runnier egg) to six (for a less-runny but still loose egg) minutes. Drain and rinse egg briefly under cool water until cool enough to handle and carefully peel — because the egg inside is so soft, I recommend chipping off smaller pieces at a time and running it under water as needed so you don’t accidentally rip it open. Set aside.
Prep salad: Tear frisee into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl.
Right before you’re ready to serve everything, make vinaigrette: If using slab bacon, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices, then 1/4-inch thick sticks (lardons); if using bacon slices, just cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch lardons. Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over moderate heat, until bacon is 3/4 as crisp as you’d like it to get. Add shallots, and cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in red wine vinegar and Dijon and let simmer for 10 seconds. Immediately pour 3/4 hot dressing over potatoes and last 1/4 over frisee in bowl, tossing the lettuce to combine evenly. Season both with salt and pepper.
To finish: Top dressed potatoes with peeled eggs and use a knife to cut them into quarters, so they break open over the potatoes. Season cut eggs with salt and pepper again, sprinkle potato dish with blue cheese. Serve with frisee on the side or on top.
Note: I’ve made this a few times (can you blame me?) and sometimes I got a lot of “renderings” from the bacon and had more than enough dressing for the potatoes and side bowl of lettuce and a couple times it felt a little scant. If you don’t feel like you have enough dressing to stretch over the potatoes and lettuce, just cover the potatoes well. The lettuce can be always be lightly dressed with a splash of olive oil, teaspoon of red wine vinegar plus the salt and pepper.