Monday, August 25, 2008
bacon and eggs
ok, so it's not really bacon and eggs. but i started off calling this "garlic and anchovy butter toasts with poached eggs and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto"...i mean, it's accurate and descriptive, but hardly concise.
this is a lovely dish that is as easy to make on a weeknight for dinner or a late sunday morning for breakfast. poaching eggs isn't difficult at all (in case you happen to be one of the many who are scared of it). as i get older i realize how well my mother prepared me for life's little challenges...i've been poaching eggs for years now, and love the process. however, if you still feel daunted after reading my instructions, head on over to smitten kitchen for her step-by-step photo tutorial.
the garlic and anchovy brown butter in this is amazing. honestly, i could drink it (but wouldn't, cause - you know - it's butter) and i'm sure you'll love it. if you are scared of anchovies, try anchovy paste, but don't omit them because they are the essential flavor that pulls this dish together.
4 slices of thick and pillowy french bread
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced anchovy (or an equal amount of paste)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 tablespoons butter
4 large (and fresh) eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 bunch asparagus
to make the garlic and anchovy brown butter, place the minced garlic, minced anchovy, red pepper flakes and butter into a small saucepan, and heat over medium to medium low heat. stir until butter is melted, and then continue stirring until butter browns slightly. this will impart a wonderfully nutty flavor, and is a step that shouldn't be skipped. you can feel free to stop just after the butter foams...that should be a good time. turn off the heat and set aside.
meanwhile, preheat the oven to 415 degrees, and set a deep pan (or a pot) with at least 2 inches of water over a medium high burner. the idea is to get this water hot enough to be simmering, but not rapidly boiling. you can add the vinegar at this point - it helps bind the egg whites together.
clean the asparagus and trim off the hard ends with your knife. prepare your asparagus by wrapping three pieces if thin (or just one if thick) together with a slice of prosciutto. (i sliced my prosciutto in half lengthwise first because it would have been too much meat:veg ratio had i left it whole.) once the asparagus spears are completed, place them into a sil-pat lined baking sheet, spray with olive oil (i got the "misto" for christmas and love it now!) and season lightly with salt (not too much, the prosciutto is pretty salty). pop this into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
now the eggs. before we go any further, it's important to tell you never to break your eggs directly into the water. you should break them into a small bowl or ramekin, and then slowly dunk them into the water. this helps keep the whites and yolk together. your water should be simmering now, so i will share my one trick to poaching eggs well (which my mother taught me when i was little), and that is to swirl your spoon around the outside of the pan, creating a bit of a tornado effect in the center of the pan, then (using your bowl) gently lower the egg into the center. cook the egg for about 2 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny, and then set aside onto a plate with a paper towel liner. i cook my eggs one at a time, i find it easier this way. some of the white will move away from the yolk, and that's ok.
finally, the toast. smear one side of each of the pieces of bread with the garlic and anchovy brown butter sauce and then toast until just toasted, and remove two slices each to two waiting plates. top each piece of toast with an egg, and serve with the asparagus spears (for dipping into the runny yolk of the eggs). enjoy!