Here, prawns are wrapped in thin, pure white slices of cured pork fat (lardo) and sautéed to give a light savoury crust. Lardo di Colonnata was originally a humble food but today it is a prized ingredient in Tuscany. Thinly sliced pancetta could be substituted here. Insalata di campo are wild salad leaves gathered from the fields and they are bitter, beautiful and quite special.
Make the salad dressing. Put the garlic in a small bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Peel the mandarin and cut it crossways into 6 slices. Add to the dressing. If the salad leaves are very big, tear them up into good-sized pieces.
Peel the prawns, leaving the heads and tails on. Devein them, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap a piece of lardo around the body of each prawn. The loose end will stick. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Carefully add the prawns in a single layer and sauté over a strong heat until golden and crusty underneath. Using a pair of tongs, gently turn them over. Add the thyme to the bottom of the pan and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the prawns. The lardo is well seasoned but you will still need a little. Sauté until golden underneath once more. Standing well back, add the cognac to the pan. It will probably flame up, so take care. When it has burnt out, remove the pan from the heat.
Divide the salad leaves between 2 plates. Drizzle the dressing over the leaves and add the mandarin slices around each salad. Put 3 prawns on each plate and drizzle the pan juices over. Give an extra grind of black pepper and serve at once.
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