This salad was inspired by two of the loveliest girls, Tamara and Zora, who regularly host an anti-restaurant supper club in Queens. Supper clubs are becoming quite popular in New York, and I think the idea behind them is quite cool. By opening up their homes and serving food at decent prices, people are sort of rebelling against the crowded, overpriced and rushed service of established city restaurants. This is a great twist on your standard warm salad and, although I’m not crazy about ultra-sweet things, it was cleverly done because the candied layer goes so well with the crispy smoked bacon. Add a good green salad and some seasonal fruit and you’re on to a winning combo.
Depending on the season, you can vary the lettuces and salad leaves, and the fruit too: apples, pears, peaches, figs, grapes and strawberries would all be great, so use your imagination. Thanks for the inspiration, girls!
For the creamy French dressing
• 6 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 heaped tablespoon natural yoghurt
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
• 12 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, the best quality you can afford
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• 3 slices of fresh white bread
• olive oil
• freshly ground black pepper
• 2 heaped teaspoons demerara sugar
• 3 clementines
• 5 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
• 1 pomegranate
• a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
To make your dressing, put all the ingredients into a large serving bowl, whisk together, and season to taste. You want it to be slightly too acidic, so add a splash more vinegar if you think it needs it. Put to one side.
Get a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the bacon rashers and cook until lightly golden (but not really crispy), turning them every so often. Remove the bacon to a plate. Squash your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then turn the heat up a little and tear your bread into medium-sized chunks. Drop them into the pan so they suck up all the flavours and become crispy. If your bacon didn’t release a lot of fat and you think the bread needs a little help to crisp up, simply add a lug or two of olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper and shake the bread around until crispy and golden, then remove to the plate with your bacon.
Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, then put the bacon back in with the sugar and the juice of 1 clementine. Concentrate on what you’re doing, and make sure you don’t touch or taste anything at any point because it will burn you. Stir everything around in the pan so the syrup starts to stick to the bacon. As soon as the rashers are perfectly caramelized and sticky, use tongs to carefully move them to an oiled plate and leave to cool down for a minute. Whatever shape you leave the bacon in at this point is how it will set, so give the rashers a bend or a twist. Peel the remaining clementines and slice them into rounds.
Grab your bowl of dressing and add your salad leaves. Halve the pomegranate and use a spoon to knock the back of each half and pop the seeds over the salad. Add your mint leaves, then use your hands to toss and dress everything thoroughly. Lightly toss your croutons through the salad and lay your candied bacon on top. Place your clementine rounds on top of the salad, then pass the bowl around the table and let everyone serve themselves.
Californian white—a Fumé Blanc
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