This classic salade Lyonnaise recipe makes the Southern France edition of our Weekend Eggs recipe series brought to you from Céret and Perpignan, where we’ve settled in for two weeks on the France leg of our 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.
While checking out the markets and supermarkets here in the village of Céret and down in Perpignan, where we just spent a few days, Spring could be felt in the produce, if not really in the air!
Asparagus is particularly fine here at the moment, big and bright green, but the dish I like to make with asparagus is served with 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, 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.
Classic Salade Lyonnaise Recipe – Weekend Eggs Southern France Edition
Salade Lyonnaise was my solution for bringing these two ingredients together, and while the dish is not from around this part of France, 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 years of making them 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!
Fresh works 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 do two eggs at a time. The problem comes when cooking 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 tablespoon butter
- 1 dash olive oil
- ½ one baguette sliced
- 100 grams sliced bacon (we’re using poitrine salée)
- 250 grams frisée torn into peices
- 4 large fresh eggs the fresher the better for poaching
- 1 sprinkle Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
- 1 part vinegar whichever type you like
- optional items to taste:
- A little Dijon mustard
- A little lemon juice
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- In a saucepan over high heat bring a couple of inches of water to the boil – you should have 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 cook 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 vinaigrette. 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 pieces.
- Place the frisée leaves into a salad bowl and add the bacon and croutons.
- To make the vinaigrette, pour the olive oil and vinegar into a sterilized jar 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 vinaigrette and place 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. Remember to offer salt and pepper to taste.
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.
Linda Posson says
Speaking of eggs, I’m sitting over a plump perfectly round (because it is oh soooo fresh) egg (flipped over easy on a bed of sizzling butter) from Les Poules Perchées in Maureillas, the village east of Ceret. Just to compare eggs ordinaire with eggs extraordinaire, we took one of the tres gros (jumbos) we purchased at the supermarket on Friday and slid it into the pan next to those two bulls-eye round beauties we bought fresh from the farm (you can also find them at the open-air market in Ceret). In the space of several seconds, we watched the supermarket variety spread out like a blanket across the pan leaving its yoke naked at the edge. Through this simple Sunday morning experiment (thanks, Terrence, for prompting us with your delicious salad recipe to prepare eggs for breakfast) we realize now that a supermarket egg will never find itself lurking in our kitchen again. What a pleasure it is to discover beauty and perfection in something as simple as an egg in a small town in the southwest of France.
oH MY. this is to die for. will be making this, THIS WEEK! thank you! we have local eggs from our amish friends down the road. i can’t wait! thank you!
Terence Carter says
Thanks Linda and Jessie,
Glad I’m preaching to the choir about fresh, free range eggs. They particularly make a *big* difference while poaching.
Jessie, let me know how it goes. I want photos!
I can’t resist a good poached egg, especially when it’s runny in the middle.
When I recently stayed with a relative in Italy, they warmed and toasted their bread using the same method as you describe. Much quicker and less chance of burning than in an oven or a griller.
And I like the use of the iPhone! :)
Terence Carter says
Greetings Ms Gourmantic,
Agree about the bread, while a lot of people like ‘Tuscan Toast’, it’s just way too easy to burn unless you’re standing there watching the oven door.
I have the iPhone timer set on 2 minutes and just hit go every time – the iPhone is almost my favourite kitchen gadget – I have all my recipes on it as well…
Lots more food content coming up from Paris too – including interviews with 3-star chefs, cooking classes and foodie walks, so stay tuned!
Ryan B says
I love that bacon you’re using.I’d love to try it with some Guanciale! I also don’t like vinegar in my poached eggs – and you’re right only the freshest eggs poach well. Great recipe, thanks.
Terence Carter says
Great idea. I wish I could get some right now!
I think a lot of cooks use vinegar for poached eggs as a kind of insurance policy.
There’s something about the taste of it that really spoils the eggs.
Glad you enjoyed the recipe!