Garden Niciose and Crispy Cracklings

Sunday mornings are always about bacon and eggs in my house. This morning, we had an unexpected surprise. We bought a pound of smoked bacon from a farmer at the market. The bacon is made from prized berkshire hogs and cured at Benton's farms, one of our favorite purveyors, known for their southern hams and peppered bacon. We couldn't wait to try it. When we opened the package, we realized the bacon was really thick and fatty, more so than even thick-cut bacon we had ever seen. We fired up the pan anyway, but after a few minutes, it was obvious that this was not going to give us the crunchy bacon we wanted. So, we decided to have a brunch dish instead of breakfast.

I cut the bacon into shards and tossed them back into the pan over medium high heat, to render out the fat and crisp up the bacon pieces. In france, they call these lardoons. In the south, they might call them cracklings. Though, cracklings are typically made only from the skin itself.

My dish married both the french and southern roots and became a "southern" version of a tuna nicoise salad. Needless to say, the bacon cracklings were delicious! They were deliciously smokey and wonderfully crunchy.

Don't you just love when something seemingly wrong works out to be so right?!

This is a great summer salad anytime of the day. I prefer serving this salad with a slightly undercooked boiled egg served warm on the plate. You can also use crispy pancetta or any type of smoked bacon.

1/4 pound bacon slices, cut into small pieces
1 large handful of fresh lettuce leaves, gently washed and dried {I used hothouse arugula micro greens- no washing needed!}
2 oz. fresh seared, preserved or canned tuna
2 fresh, organic eggs
Wild Sage & Oregano savory salt
fresh cracked pepper

In a saute pan, cook r bacon over med. heat until all fat is rendered and the pieces are browned and crisp.
Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper bag or towel. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat a saucepan over medium heat with 6 cups water until boiling. Gently place the eggs into the pan and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain the water and run the eggs under cool water for a few seconds, just until they are easy to handle and can be peeled. Peel the eggs, being carefully not to crack them open.

Toss the greens with enough vinaigrette just to lightly coat the leaves, or drizzle over the micro greens. Top the greens with fresh or canned albacore tuna.
On two plates, divide the greens and place one egg, slicing it open so the runny yolk spills over the plate.
Top with the bacon pieces. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Serve Antipasti olives on the side.

For the Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon mustard
1 Tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

* Refrigerate any remaining vinaigrette for another use for up to 3 days.
* The bacon will be salty, so use the salt sparingly throughout.

serves two.

Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry

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