In my friend Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, he includes this recipe for a frisée salad. The last time Tony was in town, he made this for our lunch and I have been making it ever since. I have taken the liberty of adapting it a tad so that it's more easily incorporated into the casual cook's lifestyle. I have simply tightened up the details a bit, no more, no less . . . . But I do add the sugar to the pot I blanch the bacon in—I think it makes for a more interesting flavor. The dressing may seem unusual, but trust me, it works, and it's Tony's take on one of the classic salades tied, a warm bistro offering of frisée, lardon, and sautéed livers, but here the livers are used as the backbone of a sturdy vinaigrette.
Frisée and Lardons Salad with Chicken Liver Vinaigrette
1 lb. slab bacon cut into 1-inch cubes
2 T. brown sugar
1 baguette, sliced on an angle
3 T. olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
3 heads frisée, washed, trimmed, and torn into pieces
6 oz. real Roquefort
Prepare bacon by placing the cubes and sugar in a saucepan, covering them with water, and bringing to a quick boil. When water boils, drain bacon, discarding water. Toast baguette slices in the oven with a brushing of olive oil. Make sure you have your vinaigrette (see below) ready to go.
Place sauté pan on medium-high heat for a minute or so, until sizzling hot. Add bacon and cook until crispy and brown. Place cooked bacon in a salad bowl and discard all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Over medium-high heat, add half the shallots to the pan with the fat and when translucent, add chicken liver vinaigrette to the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately.
Place frisée in the salad bowl with the bacon. Add the other half of the shallots. Toss salad with vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. Spread some Roquefort on each of the slices of toasted baguette. Divide salad among six serving bowls, top each with some of the cheese-smeared toasts, and serve. Serves 4-6.
Chicken Liver Vinaigrette
4 oz. chicken livers, connective tissue removed
1 T. butter
2 oz. red wine vinegar
2 oz. olive oil
Season livers with salt and pepper. Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until it foams and subsides. Add livers to the pan and sear on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove livers and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place livers in a blender. Return the pan to the heat and stir in vinegar, scraping all that goodness from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Remove pan from heat and add vinegar to the blender with the livers. Add olive oil and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper as needed. Correct for seasoning by tasting. You may find you like this with another short drizzle of red wine vinegar added to it.