Sugar Snap Pea and Chicory Salad
This salad is inspired by the very French dish…Frisée aux Lardons. It is a simple salad usually comprised of frisée, crispy bacon, little fried potatoes and a poached egg, dressed with a tart vinaigrette made from the rendered bacon fat. Simple yet delicate and refined and oh so satisfying to eat. It is one of my favorite things to eat! This version really throws the spotlight on the beautiful spring Chicories, in this case both Frisée and Radicchio, sugary-sweet Snap Peas and luscious farm Eggs. Plan on two eggs per person. Trust me, one just isn’t enough! Chicories have a lovely bitterness that is tempered by the sharp, warm bacon dressing. Make sure to buy the highest quality bacon, hopefully made from lovingly raised pigs and purchased at your local farmer’s market. You don’t need too much, so really buy the good stuff. I highly recommend the Ramp Vinegar from Keepwell Vinegar for use in the dressing. It has just the right amount of acidity to cut through all those assertive ingredients. Rounded out with tons of fresh herbs and tender new potatoes, this salad is equally comfortable as a weekday dinner or a well-deserved Sunday brunch. Pair with a super funky, tart Cider and thick sliced sourdough for the perfect meal.
- Remove the root and outer leaves from both the frisée and radicchio. Separate all the leaves, combine and wash. Make sure to dry very well.
- Cut the bacon slices into ½” pieces. Over a medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to a plate lined with a towel. Reserve bacon fat and keep warm. We will use the fat to make the dressing later.
- Slice the potatoes into “coins” about ½” thick. Place into a medium sized pot and cover in cold water. Agitate the water to remove dirt from the potatoes and wash off some of the starch. Drain potatoes and cover by an inch with clean, cold water. Add 2 good pinches of salt and bring pot to a boil. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let cool. While warm, season with salt, pepper and a couple splashes of vinegar.
- Prepare your soft-boiled eggs. Plan on 2 per person if they are small. Bring a pot of water to a boil, carefully lower in your eggs, being careful not to crack their shells and set a timer for six and a half minutes. Once your time is up, immediately place the cooked eggs in an ice bath. Once cool, carefully remove the shells and place on a towel-lined plate to absorb the excess moisture.
- Prepare your sugar snap peas. Pinch off the tough end and remove the string that runs down both lengths of the pea. Thinly slice the raw peas on a long angle.
- Slice the scallions on a long, thin bias. Pick the parsley leaves from the stems. Reserve stems for making stock.
- To make your dressing, place the mustard, vinegar, olive oil and bacon fat in a bowl. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Mix together to create a creamy dressing.
- In a large bowel, add both your chicories, the cooked bacon, potatoes, raw sugar snap peas, and sliced scallions. Gently tear the parsley leaves into the bowel. Add a couple good grindings of black pepper, a couple pinches of salt and your dressing. Get your hands in there and toss everything together. Taste and season with more vinegar or salt, if needed.
- To plate, slice each egg in half and season with salt and pepper. Place eggs on your plate and top with your dressed salad. Add a good showering of your toasted breadcrumbs.
Michael Joyce is a Philly-based chef and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Bolete Restaurant and most recently Barbuzzo. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.