Poached Egg Salad

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This dish is a favorite at Q. Though it takes a little time to prepare its components from scratch, the recipes are straightforward and involve items commonly found in a home kitchen. This recipe is for four salads, but you will have extra dressing and pickled onions for later.

Serves 4 | 10 minutes to assemble

White Cheddar Buttermilk Dressing
15 minutes active time

7 ounces white cheddar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Dijon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
cayenne, salt, pepper to taste

Grate the cheddar into a large metal bowl. In a pot, add cream, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. While whisking, gradually pour over cheddar. Stir in Dijon, sugar, garlic, and buttermilk. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate.

15 minutes active time

1/4 cup hot bacon fat
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325°F. Pour bacon fat in baking pan and grease all sides. Place baking pan in oven to warm. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients gradually, whisking to remove lumps. Remove baking pan from the oven.

Pour batter into the pan, and let rise uncovered for 15–20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, quarter, and set aside.

Pickled Red Onions
15 minutes active time 

1 large red onion
2 cups rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/3 teaspoon chili flakes

Peel and slice onion into half inch rings. Place onion rings in a heat-resistant container. In a pot, combine rice vinegar with sugar, salt, and chili flakes. Stir to dissolve. Bring vinegar to a boil, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over onions. Be sure the onions are fully submerged. Use a plate to weight them down, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Build the Salad

2 heads butter lettuce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
¼ cup smoked bacon
1 3-inch cornbread square
4 eggs
white cheddar buttermilk dressing to taste
1 tablespoon pickled red onions
2 tablespoons aged white cheddar
1 bunch chives, minced

Cut the root ends of the butter lettuce heads, separate, and gently rinse leaves. Fill a four-quart pot 3/4 full with water (approximately 8 cups), add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Put on medium-high heat to bring to a steady simmer.

Cut bacon into 1/2-inch thick slices, then cut into rectangles. In a medium skillet over medium heat, render fat from bacon until edges are crispy. Remove bacon and set aside. With remaining fat, toast cornbread on both sides until crispy and set aside.

Crack each egg into a separate dish, set aside.

To assemble the salad, put half of the buttermilk dressing in a medium mixing bowl and about a tablespoon on the center of each plate. Place cornbread on top of dressing in center of each plate. Coat each leaf of lettuce on both sides, by gently dragging through the dressing in the bowl. Starting with the largest pieces and ending with the smallest, layer lettuce on top of the cornbread, alternating directions with each piece. To stabilize, gently press down in middle of stack. Use five to six pieces of lettuce for each salad.

Sprinkle red onion and lardons on plate.

To poach the egg, stir simmering water, and while still spinning, carefully drop egg into the center of pot for 3 minutes, making sure white is set, but yolk is still soft. With a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place on top of butter lettuce.

Finish salad with shaved white cheddar and a sprinkle of chives.

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