Bacon, Eggs and Asparagus Salad

I would have enjoyed this meal much more if I did not have children.  If you don’t believe me, read this post here: dinner time gone bad.  Aside from the monster children making dinner time difficult, this salad was good and I enjoyed it.  Would I make it again?  Sure.  I would.  It comes from the cookbook Around My French Table.  The opened, soft-boiled egg in the picture looks squashed because it is.  It had a run in with a skillet (while still in the shell) during the chaos.  Otherwise it would have been as beautifully plump as its partner.

Bacon and Eggs and Asparagus Salad

yield 4 portions

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hazelnut or walnut oil (I just used another TBS of olive oil)
Salt
coarsely-ground black pepper
4 large eggs, cold, extremely fresh
20 asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed and peeled
6 slices bacon
3 handfuls mesclun or other mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped (yuck, no thank you)

Directions

To make the vinaigrette: Put all the ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake to blend; or use a small bowl and a whisk. If you’ve used the mustard, the dressing will be fairly well blended; if not, it will blend, then separate — either way, it’s fine. Set aside, and shake (or whisk) again before using. (You can make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.)

To make the salad: Bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil. One by one, put the cold eggs on a spoon and slowly and gently lower them into the water (saying a little don’t-let-my-egg-break prayer on the way down). Allow the eggs to boil for exactly 6 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, lift the eggs into a strainer, and run them under cold water to cool them quickly. Fill the pan with cold water and leave the eggs in the water until needed.
Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Slip the asparagus into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until you can pierce the spears with the tip of a paring knife. The asparagus should be cooked through but not at all mushy. Carefully transfer the spears to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and pat them dry.
Pour out the salted water, rinse the skillet to cool it, dry it, and lay the strips of bacon in the pan. Cook over medium-low heat, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and crisp on both sides. Remove the strips and put them between a double thickness of paper towels; when the bacon is cool, cut it into narrow strips or chop it into bits. Leave 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet, you’ll use it for the eggs.
When you’re ready to serve, very, very carefully shell the eggs. It’s a fussy job, because the eggs are so soft, and you might not get the shells off cleanly, but unless you break into the yolks, it will be fine. Rinse the eggs to remove any bits of shell and pat them dry. Warm the bacon fat over medium heat.
While the bacon fat is heating, assemble the salad. You can put it together on a platter or arrange it on individual plates. Either way, season the mesclun with salt and pepper, then toss it with about three quarters of the vinaigrette, and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates. Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette (I do this with my fingers) and lay the spears over the greens.
Now return to the skillet. When the fat is warm, gingerly slip the eggs into the skillet and roll them around in the fat for a minute or two, just to coat them with fat, heat them slightly, and color them a little.  Lift the eggs out of the skillet and place them on top of the asparagus. Scatter the bacon bits and toasted nuts over the salad and serve immediately.

(For some reason, WordPress is not allowing me to space these directions the way I would like.)

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