This classic salade Lyonnaise recipe makes the Southern France edition of our Weekend Eggs recipe series, which was brought to you from Céret and Perpignan, where we settled in for two weeks on the southern France leg of our 12-month global grand tour.
In the interests of bringing the fine season of spring on with a rush (after all, we’re already a few days into April) I’ve decided that this classic salade Lyonnaise recipe should be a message to the weather gods – and our Weekend Eggs recipe from Céret, where we’ve settled into for two weeks.
While checking out the weekend markets here in the French Catalan village of Céret and the markets and specialist shops down in Perpignan, where we just spent a few days, spring could be felt in the fresh local produce, if not really in the air!
It’s asparagus season, so asparagus is particularly fine here at the moment, big and bright green. But the asparagus and poached eggs breakfast dish I like to make comes with pancetta and parmesan cheese – not very French or Catalan. But it does involve poached eggs, which I have not tackled on our global grand tour yet.
What I also noticed at the markets was lots of great frisée, a curly lettuce. It has a slightly bitter, peppery taste, which is why it’s often mixed with other types of lettuce, and it brings something crunchy to the lettuce mix of a salad.
But frisée on its own is great with poached eggs and is a super spring dish, making a classic salade Lyonnaise recipe the perfect recipe for Weekend Eggs from Céret.
Classic Salade Lyonnaise Recipe – Weekend Eggs Southern France Edition
Salade Lyonnaise was my solution for bringing the two ingredients of eggs and frisée lettuce together, and while this latest Weekend Eggs dish is not from around this part of France (it’s from Lyon, of course), the ingredients to make it are all superb here. Just don’t tell the locals until after I’ve left the region!
The classic salade Lyonnaise recipe makes an elegant breakfast eggs dish that consists of soft poached eggs that sit atop frisée lettuce, with some croutons, crispy bacon pieces, and a vinaigrette dressing of olive oil and vinegar mixed throughout.
The idea is that you get some frisée, egg white and yolk, a crouton and some bacon in every mouthful. It’s a brilliant mix of textures and a perfect marriage of flavours.
The other factor in choosing this dish was the pork – poitrine salée. This pork belly is phenomenal here in this part of France and is an essential ingredient in French cooking more generally, remembering the motto ‘fat is flavour’.
While this is a very straightforward dish, I know that poaching eggs isn’t a relaxing weekend pastime for some cooks. It can be daunting and frustrating, ending up overcooked and stringy, with broken yolks, and cold when it gets to the table!
In fact, even after many years of making poached eggs I still have not settled on a definitive way to poach eggs. Here are a few tips to making this classic salade Lyonnaise recipe.
Tips to Making this Classic Salade Lyonnaise Recipe
My current favourite way to poach eggs is in my classic salade Lyonnaise recipe, below – no vinegar used but you need fresh free-range eggs. And please do not use one of these, it’s just wrong.
But before I get to poaching the eggs, I make the croutons. For this particular classic salade Lyonnaise recipe, if I’m plating elegant individual servings of the dish, I toast baguette slices in a pan of butter and olive oil, as per steps 2) and 3), set aside four slices, then chop the rest into small croutons as per the image, below.
However, if you’re feeding a group of a friends and serving the salade Lyonnaise in a more traditional style in a big bowl to share, then chop all the baguette slices into small croutons as per the pic below.
Back to the eggs. Fresh eggs work best for poaching and free-range eggs simply have a better tasting yolk. When they’re cooked, the whites should just be set but the yolk runny.
If you don’t like runny eggs or you can’t eat eggs that aren’t fully cooked, then choose another dish to make. Anyone who tells you that you should poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes doesn’t like eggs or is paranoid.
I generally poach two eggs at a time. The problem comes when poaching eggs for lots of people. By the time you’ve finished the last eggs the first ones are cold.
The best solution for this classic salade Lyonnaise recipe is to place the eggs in an ice bath to halt the cooking process once the two minutes in the pan is up. When your salad is prepared in the bowls, plunge the eggs back in the near-boiling water for 10–15 seconds to reheat.
Amazingly, the eggs will still be soft and they’ll be hot. This is how most restaurants do it, especially when they have a high volume favourite like Eggs Benedict. It’s worth it. Toast your success with some Champagne!
Classic Salade Lyonnaise Recipe
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 glug olive oil
- ½ baguette - sliced
- 100 grams bacon - sliced, preferably poitrine salée
- 250 grams frisée lettuce - torn into pieces
- 4 large fresh eggs - fresher the better for poaching
- 1 sprinkle salt and pepper or to taste
- 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
- 1 part vinegar - whichever type you like
optional items to your taste
- Dijon mustard
- lemon juice
- freshly ground salt and pepper
- In a saucepan over high heat bring a few centimetres of water to the boil – you want small bubbles rather than a rolling boil.
- Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.
- Add the baguette slices and fry each side until golden brown.
- Remove the baguette slices and add the bacon to the pan. Cook until crisp.
- If you’re a pork lover (and not on a diet – these two things may be mutually exclusive), set the rendered pork fat aside to add to the salad dressing. It’s delicious!
- To poach the eggs, break each egg into a small tea-cup and gently immerse the cup into the water allowing the water to start cooking the egg in the cup. Then gently release the egg into the water. Start a timer for two minutes.
- At two minutes, the whites should be set but the yolk runny. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Chop the toasted baguette into crouton-sized pieces, except for four slices.
- Place the frisée leaves into a salad bowl and add the bacon and croutons.
- To make the salad dressing, pour the olive oil and vinegar into a sterilised jar, along with your optional extras. Shake vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When your poached eggs are ready – or ready to be reheated – mix the salad with the dressing and place the salad into the bowls in a nice mound. Place the piece of baguette on top.
- Place the poached egg on top of the piece of baguette and serve. Serve with salt and pepper.
If you’re visiting Grantourismo for the first time, we began our Weekend Eggs series way back in 2010 when we launched Grantourismo with a yearlong global grand tour aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel, more sustainable, immersive and more engaging forms of travel.
On that trip, we spent two weeks in each place staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to learn to live like locals, and in each place we settled, we explored the local food, met local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties, which we shared in The Dish, for which Terence learnt to cook a quintessential dish of each place, and in Weekend Eggs.
If you’re an eggs lover and particularly a lover of breakfast eggs dishes, do dig into our Weekend Eggs archive (link above) for inspiration and ideas or browse some of our many egg recipe collections, such as our best Asian omelette recipes, best savoury breakfast bowl recipes and best jammy soft-boiled eggs recipes.
First published 10 April 2010; Last updated 13 July 2023
Please do let us know if you make our classic salade Lyonnaise recipe or any of our Weekend Eggs recipes as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.