'Pontormo' Salad With Caviar
A salad recipe that was one of the Italian painter Pontormo's favourite dishes: scrambled eggs with greens, and pancetta, with a twist of caviar
Preheat oven to lowest setting possible (below 200ºF). Thinly slice pancetta on an electric slicer, as thin as possible but not falling apart, about ⅛ inch, or ask your butcher to do so. Put them on a baking tray with parchment paper above and below. Place another pan on top to weigh it down. Then bake for 1 ½ to 3 hours, until crisp, checking every 30 minutes after about an hour of cooking. Depending on thickness and temperature of the oven the cooking time will vary. When finished take off and drain on a paper towel. Store in an airtight container if making the day before. In a bowl, place the lettuce and put aside.
In another bowl for dressing, put the red wine vinegar, balsamic and red wine. Salt and pepper.
In another bowl crack the eggs and add salt and pepper, don’t whisk.
Place the oil, lardo and herbs in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until some of the fat is rendered from the lardo, but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
Pour the eggs into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring the white with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the skillet without breaking the yolk. Once the white is softly scrambled, break the yolk and mix together, 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the pan from the heat as necessary to keep the eggs from overcooking. In a bowl, toss the lettuce with a drizzle of the warm dressing. Add the Grana Padano. Then add the egg mixture. Fold everything together in the bowl, adding croutons just before plating.
To serve, divide the entire mixture between four places. Dollop Calvisius Italian Caviar evenly across the salad.
This warm salad of eggs scrambled with pancetta and tossed with soft lettuces, herbs, and vinegar was reputed to have been one of the favorite dishes of Pontormo, a sixteenth century Florentine painter, chef Cesare Casella was inspired to create this version after reading about the painter in a historical cookbook.
The salad requires no fat beyond that rendered by the lardo and the oil used to to cook the eggs: the red wine and balsamic vinegars, in combination with the rendered fat, create the dressing.
For this recipe, the eggs are not whisked before cooking. The goal is to retain the distinct colors and textures of the yolks and whites (please, note that this is not a traditional technique for scrambling eggs.) These are cooked over relatively low heat in order not to toughen them.