Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Col du Tourmalet!

With the Tour de France 2015 entering week two in the beautiful Pyrenees mountains, I am giddy with excitement! Today's stage 11 will no doubt be as enchanting as it is perilous. While my favorite riders are Sagan, Van Garderen, and Quintana, it appears that spindly Chris Froome may very likely take the yellow jersey in Paris...again...sigh. Anyway, to celebrate the beauty of the Pyrenees, I want to share this wonderful recipe from Jamie Oliver that utilizes the region's most famous cheese, "Roquefort Salad with Warm Croutons and Lardons." This fantastic, main course salad is a real showstopper, and one of my absolute favorites! Roquefort, homemade croutons, bacon, walnuts, and a mustardy vinaigrette - what's not to love? A lovely bottle of wine, such as Savagnin from Jura, makes this an excellent summer meal! 

Roquefort Salad with Warm Croutons and Lardons

Serves 4 as a main

For the Salad:
Olive oil
8 ounce piece of smoked streaky bacon, the best quality you can afford, rind removed
2 thick slices of sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large handfuls of lamb's lettuce, watercress or rocket, washed and spun dry
2 large handfuls of radicchio, washed and spun dry
A large handful of shelled walnut haves, sliced
A bunch of chives, finely chopped
3.5 ounces Roquefort cheese

For the Dressing:
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a large frying pan on a high heat, and once hot, add a good couple of lugs of olive oil. Cut your bacon into half-inch lardons, and add to the pan. Fry, stirring occasionally, for around 3 minutes, or until you've got a good bit of color on the bacon and a lot of the fat has rendered out. Turn the heat down a little and add your bread to the pan, making sure you spread the croutons out so they take on some color. Fry for another 3 minutes, or until they've sucked up all the wonderful flavor and are lovely, crisp and golden.

Put the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper into a clean jam jar. Put the lid on and give it a shake, then have a taste and make sure you've got the balance right. You want it to be slightly too acidic at this stage, as you'll get quite a bit of saltiness from the bacon and French dressings tend to be quite sharp.

Once your dressing is made, get everyone around the table so they're ready to tuck in as soon as the salad is ready. Put your salad leaves on a big platter, tear in the radicchio, then pour over the wonderful, thick dressing. Scatter over most of your walnuts and chives and all the croutons and lardons. Quickly mix it all up with your clean hands so that every single leaf is coated.

Use the tip of a knife to crumble off little nuggets of Roquefort and let them fall straight on to your salad. Finish by scattering over the rest of the walnuts and chives from a height, and tuck in!

Recipe from Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes.

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