You Know What You Need for Lunch? A Salad of Bacon and Eggs

 Editor’s Note: As more people are working from home, Bloomberg Pursuits is introducing a weekly Lunch Break column that will highlight a notable recipe from new cookbooks and the hack that makes them genius.

Remember restaurant menus? You can still see them online, a list of food and drinks you might be able to order for delivery. (Do it; support your local restaurants.)

But some dishes belong firmly in a restaurant dining room; they aren’t designed to travel from chef’s kitchen to your house. French fries invariably arrive soggy; cheeseburgers aren’t better for the trip. The No. 1 dish you shouldn’t order for delivery is one with eggs, especially if they’re not scrambled and tucked into a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

By extension that means that a hall-of-fame bistro dish, the runny egg and bacon-adorned frisee salad, should not be ordered for delivery. It’s also a staple on steakhouse menus, and why not? It’s hearty enough to be a meal, with thick pieces of crispy, fatty bacon and at least one oozy egg balanced on a bed of vinaigrette-soaked greens.

For everyone who’s now craving that salad, Susan Spungen is here to help. Spungen was the founding food editor at Martha Stewart Living, creating the cult of casually perfect pies and mac and cheese. She also styled the dishes that co-starred in movies such as Eat, Pray, Love and Julie & Julia. She is, essentially, a professional home cook, with the ability to create idealized versions of go-to dishes.

In her new cookbook, Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings (Avery, $35), Spungen delivers an array of those recipes. The book highlights a smart, appealing entertaining style—one that can only be shared through a Zoom screen at the moment but will return. (She’s also become an expert at food that can be made ahead, a result of waiting on film sets for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts to come out of hair and makeup.)

One of the appealing dishes in Spungen’s book is her take on that bistro salad. In her version, kale replaces the standard curly frisee lettuce—it’s tossed with a mustardy dressing made with the bacon drippings. She also adds buttery toast sticks to the salad for dipping in the soft egg yolk. “It’s one of the most indulgent bistro dishes,” she explains. “It’s got all the good things in it, but it’s very quick and simple to prepare.”

One of the best things about the dish might be the way she hacks the tricky job of poaching eggs. She steams them, in their shell, for a precise amount of time (6½ minutes). They emerge ready to be peeled with a photogenic soft, oozy center. It’s a fantastic trick to keep in mind the next time you make eggs Benedict or especially when the day comes that you’re making soft-yolked eggs for a crowd. It’s the crown of a substantial salad that you don’t want to have anywhere but home right now.

The following recipe is adapted from Open Kitchen. Make sure the pan you use to cook the eggs is big enough to hold the steamer basket or colander and that there’s a lid.

Bacon, Egg, and Kale Salad

Serves 4

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 thick slices sourdough or whole wheat bread, cut into 3-inch sticks
½ lb. (about two ¼-inch thick slices) slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 small shallot or garlic clove, minced
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ bunch tender kale, such as red Russian, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (5 cups, softly packed)
4 large eggs, cold

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tbsp. of the oil. Add the bread and toast over moderate heat, tossing, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat until crisp but still soft, about 13 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp. fat from the skillet. Add the shallot and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half, 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and mustard and bring to a boil. Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. oil and season with salt and pepper; keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, add ½ inch of water and set a steamer basket or small colander inside. Cover and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Add the eggs to the basket, cover tightly, and steam for 6½ minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 1 to 2 minutes, then peel and rinse the eggs. Toss the kale with enough dressing to coat the leaves, season with salt and pepper, add the croutons, and mix thoroughly. Top with the bacon. Cut each egg in half, set on the salad, and serve with any extra dressing.

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