15 December 2008

The Lighter Side Of Winter

It's nearly Christmas, which in my house means 3 very anxious children and an even more anxious partner, whom is in her 1st year of Law School.  Cramming for finals seems to lead to a near complete lack of a real appetite, coupled with frantic snacking, and joined by the occasional emotional outburst.

Since the kids are with their Mom tonight, I'm thinking that I get to make whatever I want.

"Hmm.  I loved that Boeuf Vingeronne I made last week," I said.  "How does a Brasato Bianchi sound?  Or maybe a Wild Mushroom Ragú with some Bucatini?  Mmmm.  And Steak."

"No.  I'm really not feeling that heavy.  I need something lighter,"   came the distant and scared reply.  

All right.  The last four hours of my pondering, meaty obsession has just been completely subjugated by the words "something lighter." 

And so it is.  

Summer at my house means mostly eating outside meals that consist of uncooked greens and various other raw foods, along with light pastas, and fire grilled meats and vegetables.  And although I grill year round, Autumn and Winter are my "soup" times.  I love soup.  In fact, my next entries are to be filled with soups, stews, and yes, I'll say it, even casseroles.  

However, there is always room to compromise.

So today, we're talking about Salads.  

And it's currently 22 Degrees F at this very moment.  

Sometimes, especially in the winter, we tend to eat much more heavily than we should. Often, we forgo greens altogether, with perhaps the exception of over cooked, vitamin drained stovetop concoctions.  

Personally, I find this an affront to the vegetable. It is disrespectful and diminutive of its vitality and character to steam it. There are rare and few gentle exceptions.  For example, blanching does not offend me. Crisp tender, along with al denté is simply a rule of my kitchen. 

So, it's way below freezing outside.  Feel free to mix in a salad.  

The bonus to this notion is that winter salads can satisfy the deepest of comfort food, meat centered cravings, while helping you balance your diet and still eat in a seasonal fashion which, truth be told, is the healthiest approach to diet that I can think of.

Let's begin with Pig.

Pork has an amazing way of satisfying my heathen urges while contributing a minimal amount of fat (relatively) to a meal.  I'm talking about bacon.  As an accent.

Now, we add an egg.  Warm, gooey, and a near perfect protein.

Combine these two ingredients and turn the most chilly salad into a warm, inviting, Lazy Sunday feast of pure indulgence, satisfaction, and intelligent eating.

This is something the French do very well, so we're going to base our salad on the concept of the French Bistro.

If you can get it, buy some side pork from your local butcher and cure it yourself. Otherwise, pick a good quality thick sliced bacon and proceed. The truth is, the higher in quality the bacon, the less you need.

Next, procure the freshest eggs you can.

And then...  Begin.

This recipe is for two.  Adjust quantities as necessary, or desired.

3  1/4" thick slices of Bacon sliced crosswise at 1/4" again
2  Eggs
8 oz Frisée or Mâche, Radicchio and/et Frisée
Red Onion, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T. fresh Lemon Juice
2 t. White Wine Vinegar 
1 t. Mustard (Dijon or Stone Ground)
1 thinly sliced Calabrian Hot Pepper, seeded (or 1 tsp red pepper flakes)
Sea Salt

Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet (or non stick), until beginning to crisp (about 5 minutes). Drain on a plate reserving 1 Tbsp of fat.

Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and bacon fat until smooth, and then whisk in olive oil. Stir in the hot pepper and a pinch of good sea salt.

Toss greens with onion and dressing and put onto plates.  Sprinkle with bacon.

Poach eggs and place on salads.

Pinch some more sea salt and fresh ground pepper over eggs.



  1. Sounds like a delicious salad. We don't do much bacon in our house but I've been eating more greens and meat, sometimes even for breakfast. Yum.

    But where's the next entry? Why are you making your readers fast?! We want more, man, more.

    p.s. X-mas in our house is anxious too, at least for those of us with a lot of emotional baggage around the holidays: http://babybondingbookfordads.blogspot.com/2008/12/holiday-hard-stuff.html

  2. This is the best salad! I can't believe how good this is. How do you make your own bacon?!