Curly-Endive Salad with Bacon and Poached Eggs
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes good-quality white bread
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 large head endive, torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 quarts)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red- or white-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Put a large frying pan over moderate heat. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Put them in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the croutons from the pan.
Add the bacon to the pan and cook until crisp. Remove and drain. Put in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl with the endive. Pour off all but 1/4 cup of the fat from the pan.
Fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water. Add the 1 teaspoon vinegar and bring to a boil. Break each egg into a cup or small bowl and slide one at a time into the water. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Poach the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
To the fat in the pan, add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, the garlic, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Warm the dressing over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic barely starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar and remove from the heat. Toss the dressing with the endive and bacon until the endive wilts slightly. Add the croutons and toss again. Put on plates. Top each salad with a warm egg.