Breaded, Pan-Fried Goat Cheese with a Salad of Mesclun with Red Onions, Crisp Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the pan-fried cheese

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (regular or whole grain)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (mix pure and extra-virgin)

For the salad

  • 1 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, fried until crisp and drained
  • 1 pound (14 to 16 cups) mesclun, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into thin wedges (optional)
  • Suggested dressing: Balsamic Vinaigrette, close to room temperature

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Bakery
3/4 cup Dried Breadcrumbs, preferably homemade

Canned & Jarred Goods
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (regular or whole grain)
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil (mix pure and extra-virgin)
Suggested dressing: Balsamic Vinaigrette, close to room temperature

Dairy & Eggs
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) mild-flavored goat cheese logs, well chilled
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Olive oil or Clarified Butter, as needed
Scant 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Meat & Seafood
1 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, fried until crisp and drained

Produce
1 pound (14 to 16 cups) mesclun, rinsed and spun dry
1 small red onion, sliced into thin wedges (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced

Spices & Baking
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To bread the cheese

Mix the egg and water in a shallow bowl. Whisk the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together, on a plate, and place it next to the egg. Season the crumbs with salt and black pepper. Place a sheet of wax paper on a shallow tray and place it next to the crumbs. Take the logs of goat cheese out of the refrigerator and unwrap them. Using unflavored dental floss, cut the goat cheese into generous 1-inch thick slices. Dip each slice in the beaten egg, coating on both sides, and then coat each slice evenly in the crumb mixture. As each slice is coated, place it on the prepared tray. When finished, cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and as much as 24 hours, before continuing.

To make the dressing

Combine all the dressing ingredients, using a whisk, in a nonreactive bowl. If not serving right away, cover the bowl and refrigerate. Take the dressing out of the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

To cook the bacon

Cook the bacon, over medium-heat, until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside until ready to rewarm the bacon and serve.

To pan-fry the cheese

Just before you’re ready to serve, pan-fry the cheese. First place a wire cooling rack on a shallow baking sheet and place the sheet close to the stove. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over high heat and, when hot, add a thin layer of olive oil, or melt a few tablespoons of clarified butter. When the fat is hot, add the breaded goat cheese, in a single layer, without crowding. Fry on both sides until golden and hot throughout, turning once. When golden, transfer each slice to the wire rack. (Don’t use paper towels, as any oozing cheese will stick to it.)

To assemble the salad

Rewarm the bacon, either wrapped loosely in foil, in a preheated 350F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or in a microwavable plate or bowl, lined with a doubled sheet of paper towel, on high, for 1 to 2 minutes. Blot any fat off bacon and set aside. Combine the greens and the onions, in a large mixing bowl and add enough dressing to coat the greens lightly. Sprinkle the greens lightly with salt and gently mix the dressing throughout. Divide generous portions of salad between six dinner plates and scatter each serving with an equal amount of bacon. Place 2 slices of fried cheese to one side of the salad and serve immediately. Pass a pepper mill with a bowl of extra dressing, at the table.

Timing is Everything

The breadcrumbs can be made weeks ahead and kept in the freezer in a sealed, heavy-duty plastic tub, or in doubled, heavy-duty freezer bags

The cheese can be breaded one day ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.

The dressing can be made and chilled and the greens can be cleaned and dried two days ahead, and kept refrigerated in a jumbo plastic bag, lined with paper towels.

For best flavor, let the dressing sit at room temperature for 1 hour, before using

The bacon can be cooked very early in the day and, once cool, kept refrigerated, covered. Bring close to room temperature, before reheating. If made a few hours ahead, keep the bacon out at a comfortable room temperature.

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