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spinach, fig, bacon, and egg brunch salad

Kim's beautiful salad - October 2008

Kim’s beautiful salad – October 2008

In late October of last year, Barbara Fenzl of Les Gourmettes Cooking School celebrated the school’s 25th anniversary. As her proud assistants at the school, Kim Howard and I threw an Anniversary Brunch and invited all the teachers who had taught there those past 25 years. I prepared the breakfast side of the meal and Kim handled the lunch side. One of the salads Kim made was so delicious and so beautiful to look at, that I am going to make a version of it for a brunch I am doing this Wednesday. Kim’s salad was inspired by a Tyler Florence recipe…and since this recipe was inspired by Kim – I think that it is about 2 degrees of separation from the original…right?

There is an ingredient in the vinaigrette that you may or may not have in your pantry.  Sherry vinegar is one of my favorites, it lends a unique and wonderful tone to dressings, it can be found at Cost Plus World Market. Both of these fabulous staples are worth adding to your inventory.  But if you need to substitute – use red wine vinegar in place of the sherry vinegar.

Spinach, Fig, Bacon, and Egg Brunch Salad

3 tablespoons honey
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 of the same lemon
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 rotisserie chicken, meat only, skin and bones discarded
1/2 pound bacon, diced
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
12 to 16 small mission figs, stemmed and quartered
1/4 pound Brie cheese, rind removed and cubed
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 bunch tarragon leaves, for garnish

Vinaigrette:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, shallot, sherry vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and tarragon until well blended. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and set it aside.

Salad: Shred the chicken into bite-size pieces.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cooked until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to drain on paper towels.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the pan. Add the chicken and pan-fry for 3 minutes, stirring to just heat through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the bacon. Add the vinaigrette to the sauté pan and heat for one or two minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of bacon and chicken from the bottom of the pan; pour dressing back into the bowl and allow to return to room temperature.

To serve, arrange the spinach on a platter. Scatter the chicken, bacon, figs, Brie, and eggs over the top. Drizzle the dressing on and garnish with the tarragon leaves.

Serves 8

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