The Gourmet Review | Best Food Blog | Secret Restaurant Recipes

Photography by Deborah Jones

Love. Love. Love this salad. It’s of my all time favorites. Otherwise known as “Salade De Laitue,” this is an elegant, classic and sure to be one of the most popular you will serve to guests for special evenings or a standby at home. The fresh herbs make all the difference.

As Thomas Keller explains, “The word laitue comes from the Latin word for milk, from the milky juices some lettuces can exude.  Hearty, buttery Bibb leaves are a good example of the rich, juicy quality lettuce can have.  They’re so big and rich, in fact, that this salad almost qualifies as a meal in itself.

This salad is all about freshness.  Use plenty of freshly picked fines herbes:  parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil; harder herbs, such as savory, rosemary, and marjoram, would be too strong.  Finish it with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Buy nice rounded, mature heads of Bibb lettuce, with good weight; these will have the greatest amount of tender yellow interior leaves.  If the leaves have become at all soft and leathery, a rinse in cold water will refresh them.”

SERVES  4

INGREDIENTS

4 heads bibb lettuce

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoons minced chives

¼ cup Italian parsley leave

¼ cup tarragon leaves

¼ cup chervil leaves

½ cup of House Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Carefully cut out the core from each head of lettuce and separate the leaves, but keep each head of lettuce together; discard any tough outer leaves. Because each head of lettuce will be reassembled, the easiest way to work is with one head at a time. First, place the leaves in a bowl of cold water to refresh them and remove any dirt, then lift out and spin dry in a salad spinner.

Place the leaves from a single head of lettuce in a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons of the shallots and chives, and 1 tablespoon each of parsley, tarragon, and chervil. Then toss gently with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Repeat with the remaining heads.

For each serving, arrange the outer lettuce leaves as a base on the plate and rebuild each head of lettuce, ending with the smallest, most tender leaves.

House Vinaigrette

This is (Bouchon’s)  basic vinaigrette, three parts oil, one part acid, pared almost to its essentials-no shallots, no salt, and pepper- so that it can be used almost like a sauce base. The mustard adds flavor and strengthens the emulsion. Any number of additional ingredients may be added to it , depending on how it’s to be used. Most often it’s used to dress greens that have been seasoned with salt and tossed with fresh herbs, as with the Bibb Salad.

 INGREDIENTS

¼ cup of Dijon mustard

½ cup of red wine vinegar

1 ½ cups canola oil

DIRECTIONS

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in ½ cup of the oil. Don’t be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil. (The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.

NOTE

This recipe excerpted from BOUCHON cookbook by Thomas Keller (Artisan Books, 2004)  is  not only an extraordinary collection of recipes, but the exquisite photography captures the sheer passion of one of America’s great chefs.

– The Gourmet Review





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