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Sep 12, 2017
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WINE WITH…Salade Lyonnaise

The city of Lyon, one of France’s great gastronomic capitals, is credited with “inventing” this delicious salad, but many other French regions have adopted it as their own--and we have too! It’s such a versatile dish, perfect for brunch or lunch, and it also can serve as the tasty centerpiece of a light dinner. Serve it with some great bread, and maybe a chunk of wonderful cheese on the side.

In Lyon, frisée and or dandelion leaves are the traditional greens used in the hometown salad, but a whole range of other greens can be equally good. The key to a great Lyonnaise salad is to use greens that have a slight bitter edge, a crisp, sturdy texture, and a dark green color. The American palate has apparently not developed much of a taste for the assertive bitterness of dandelion leaves, but other desirable options include frisée, escarole, curly endive, and even green leaf lettuce. Choose one or a couple of these, but whichever ones you do use make sure they are carefully washed and thoroughly dried (there are few things less appetizing than a gritty and water-logged salad).

Salade Lyonnaise

Makes 4 servings.

4-5 cups washed and dried salad greens
6-8 slices thick-cut bacon cut in ½ to 1½ inch pieces
5 slices good white bread, crusts trimmed, cut in 2-3 inch pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
8 eggs

Tear the salad greens into pieces and refrigerate until ready to use. In a sturdy skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is just crisp. Remove it from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Discard the bacon grease but do not wash the pan. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to the pan, and when it is hot add the pieces of bread in a single layer (working in batches if necessary). As soon as each piece of bread is golden, turn it over and cook until it too is toasted. Remove the bread and wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and sauté the shallots until they are soft but not browned. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place the greens in a large bowl and poach the eggs.* Pour the dressing over the greens and divide the salad among four plates. Top each with two eggs, and garnish with the pieces of bacon and toasted bread.

* The eggs may be poached the conventional way in simmering water, or you can find instructions on the Internet about poaching them in a microwave. To poach them on the stovetop, pour an inch or two of salted water into a deep skillet and bring it to the boil, then lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Working with one egg at a time, break an egg into a shallow cup or bowl and gently slide it into the simmering water. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the white is set and the yolk has filmed over. Drain the eggs on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.

* * *

This is a very versatile suppertime dish when it comes to choosing a wine. The bacon invites a light to medium-bodied red, while the eggs mesh well with a flavorful white. And the greens? So long as the wine you choose displays sufficient acidity, you’ll be in fine shape. Don’t look for softness. Aim instead for a wine with an assertive character. This salad can handle it.
Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com


Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Domaine Berthet-Rayne, Côtes du Rhône (France) 2015

(Imported by Elite Wines)

$14

Displaying peppery undertones in support of its primary plum-like fruit, this medium-weight red had just the right texture to work well with our Salade Lyonnaise. It’s supple, but at the same time firmly structured, with plenty of vibrancy for balance.

DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch (South Africa)

“Maestro White”

2014

(Imported by Cape Classics)

$22

A kitchen sink blend of Roussanne, Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier, this is a richly perfumed, full-bodied white. It has a creamy texture but plenty of “bite,” so complements all the ingredients in this dish.

Luna Beberide, Bierzo (Spain) Mencia

2015

(Imported by Grapes of Spain)

$16

The Mencia grape can yield aromatic red wines that will seduce rather than dominate your palate. That’s the case with this medium-weight example. When tasted with the salad, its aromatic complexity added a delightful new element to the experience.

Sileni

Marlborough (New Zealand)

Sauvignon Blanc “Straits Reserve”

2016

(Imported by Prestige Wine & Spirits Group)

$16

Classic Marlborough aromas and flavors (grapefruit, lime, and grassy, herbal notes) make this Sauvignon a fine choice to serve with all sorts of salads. The bright acidity only added to its appeal with this one, as it cut right through the earthy bacon.

Tablas Creek

Paso Robles

(California)

“Patelin de Tablas Blanc” 2015

$25

A Rhône-styled blend, this wine has just enough acidity on the palate to succeed with Salade Lyonnaise. Its almost waxy texture and rich summer fruit flavors provide plenty of appealing symmetry, but it’s the crispness, especially in its finish, that really makes the match sing.