This is my adaptation of an old school French classic chicory salad. To contrast the bitter chicory I’ve used the sweetness of the poached pears in red wine with the creamy blue cheese. Combined with the roasted Jersey Royals, this brings a whole new angle to the seasonal British salad.
Red wine poached pears
4 William pears / firm, peeled and cut in half
6 black peppercorns
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
400ml red wine
75g soft brown sugar
1 orange / peel and juice
Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan, slowly bring to simmer on a low heat being careful not to boil. This will take 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool, carefully place in an airtight container with the pears fully submerged in the liquid.
For best results prepare 3-4 days before using.
Blue cheese dressing
80g strong blue cheese / Cornish blue, Stilton or Gorgonzola
100g crème fraiche
6 tbsp olive oil / Extra virgin
5 tbsp cider vinegar
Flaky sea salt / Maldon to taste
Put all of the ingredients into a liquidiser and blend together to a silky smooth consistency. Add water if needed and store in the fridge until required.
300g Jersey Royals
3 heads red chicory
1 bunch watercress
Mix of soft herbs / tarragon, chervil and parsley
Boil the new potatoes in salted water until almost tender (15-20 mins).
Drain and cool under running cold water. For best results, chill in the fridge to firm up before cutting in half.
Sauté in a hot frying pan using olive oil until a light golden colour, season and set aside. Separate the chicory leaves, wash and combine with the trimmed watercress and the Jersey Royals equally into required serving dishes.
Remove the pears from the liquor, drain well and cut each half into 4 wedges, add to the chicory leaves, season with salt and black pepper, toss together with a little drizzle of olive oil and pear liquor.
Finally pour the blue cheese dressing liberally over the salad and garnish with pickled fresh herbs.
You can always add caramelised walnuts sprinkled onto top, but be sure that you tell your guests in case of any allergies.