Thursday, September 2, 2010

Luiske salade, a.k.a. Salade Liégeoise, a.k.a. freakin' awesome bean salad!

I've been in a bit of a culinary wasteland lately, trying to get my mojo back (not having the girls around for three weeks was part of the nosedive to Bummerville!) But the Belgians have pulled me back from the brink! (It helped that the kidos brought me back a Belgian beer t-shirt, coasters, a full bottle of it, bottle openers, and even postcards! Synchronicity city and I'm the mayor!)

So, naturally, I turned to my Belgian cookbook for a renewed lease on life and it delivered in spades. It is fast becoming my favourite cookbook -- if you find a copy through some stroke of incredible luck, snag it! I picked up my version a few years back while at a work meeting in Brussels. I was on my way to Le Corbeau to find a Chevalier (you can read about some of these great pubs here) when I stumbled across an English book store. I popped in to check out the Tintins (and bought Asterix in Belgium) and this cookbook caught my eye, so I grabbed it too. This was one of my best decisions EVER! It's even signed by the authour! (The Chevalier with a side order of stoemp and sausages was brilliant too, just so you know.)

ANYWAY, I was looking through the book last night and came across a dozen or so recipes that I really have to try (the buckwheat pancakes are from here too, btw). This recipe is for a green bean salad, and since green beans are at the top of their game just now, I figured this was as good a place as any to get going.

First, though, you really owe it to yourself to pop open a nice Belgian beer! YAY!!!

The recipe requires about a thousand pans, and tons of organisational skill, so I tried to streamline it a bit. I hope it works for you, too. The first step is to get a pot of spuds on the boil in lighty salted water. I used small homegrown red ones. You want them fairly small since it's nice to keep them whole while they boil. Set the timer for 15 minutes (or however long you think they'll take to get tender).

While they're bubbling away, clean a handful of green beans,

...and cut a few slices of bacon. This bacon comes from the outstanding Piggy Market in Ottawa -- a local producer that makes bacon the old fashioned way. They also source from local farmers, including Barbara Schaefer.

I paid Barbara a visit last winter to check-out the operation. Knowing that these piggies get to root around and live normal, social, piggy lives makes chomping down on them later a less conflicted process than it might otherwise be (for a pancake, daffodil softie like me, anyway).

So...back to the beans. About 7 minutes before your spuds are done, get the bacon going.

When the potatoes are done, get your beans out of the collander and into some lightly salted, boiling water.... (See what I mean about the pans?!)

...then dump the spuds in the recently emptied collander and let them cool for a while. Set the beans on a timer for 5 minutes.

By now your bacon should be done, so remove it to a bowl.

Then toss a small sliced onion into the bacon pan, and fry that up for about 10 mins.

Once the beans have blanched (after the 5 mins) remove them to a plate.

Then add the bacon,...

...and cover so they stay warm. (The recipe says to use plastic wrap, but see? you don't need it!)

By now you should be able to slice your spuds, so get to it. You can slice them like this, or into wedges -- whatever you like. If the skins fly off some slices, then chuck 'em -- this is a rustic dish, but you don't want it to look like crap.

And now your onions should be ready! (This recipe may sound a little crazy, and it is, but it belongs to the "no guts, no glory" category of recipes, so damn the torpedoes (!) and jump in!)

 Ok, get ready. Time to assemble. Dump your onions, bacon grease and all, on the beans and bacon.

Add the spuds, and toss the mixture around a bit. (In retrospect, it would have been smarter to do the tossing in the bowl, and to use the plate as the cover, but whatever. I get wiser every day.)

 Get some red wine vinegar (I don't have any, so I used sherry vinegar instead -- it's better anyway: Spain is great too!) and dump some into the hot (and empty) bacon and onion pan. (HOLY SMOKES! I just remembered that I got this bottle at Pan Chancho, a spin-off from Chez Piggy in Kingston. This is getting to be a REALLY piggy post!) The recipe says 6 tablespoons, but I haven't measured any of this yet, and I wasn't about to start, so I just poured enough to coat the pan.

Let this simmer down on just-over-medium heat for 2 minutes.

Then pour the slightly reduced vinegar over the salad and mix again. (You may balk at pouring nearly pure vinegar all over your salad, but keep in mind you just dumped a bunch of bacon fat on there, so it will all balance out in the end. Truuuuuuuust me.) Sorry for the blurry picture -- I'm sure it has something to do with whatever the hell was in that big bottle.

Mix it around again (I REALLY should have done this in the bowl). Serve up on wee plates with the rest of your supper (or just eat it all now -- straight out of the bowl if you're in caveman mode!). This is a good side dish to have with something like roast chicken, which requires no attention and allows you to focus on cooking the other stuff.

This is also a good time to have another offering from those glorious Belgians! (I managed to visit Mort Subite, by the way, several times in fact -- the Ardennes sausage plate is brilliant if you happen to have the occasion to be there!)

Bon Appétit! Eet Smakelijk!

p.s. I also made a poolish, because I'm gonna make some Abbey bread from the same book on Saturday (I really hope it cools down by then, cuz I have to stoke the oven up to fire-and-brimstone heat). What's poolish, you say? Well, stay tuned, my dear friends, and you'll soon see! :D

1 comment:

  1. Could you post the actual measurements for this recipe from the cookbook, please?