Saturday, March 6, 2010

oeufs pour un

Though surely it's not, tonight's dinner feels like the first from-scratch meal I've prepared for myself in months. More likely among 2 in 10 days, which isn't anything to be proud of. As I sat down to eat tonight, the entire mood struck me as odd. The television was off. I was listening to music that wasn't Chicago or The Rolling Stones. I was cooking from a recipe. I was opening a bottle of wine just for myself. It was all so civilized, which hasn't been the dominant mood here in some time.

Between blah and blah blah blah, as mentioned in nearly all of my posts, life has been busy. Or maybe I have just been lazy. Who knows, but for a change, eating has been more of a chore than a pleasure. There's been the introduction of carbo-loading for my "long distance" runs (8-10 miles on a weekend) which is proof that when there is a general rule about what you should eat, ie mostly carbs the night before a big run, you crave the exact opposite, ie steak and salad. There's been a tightening of belts in the budget department which means cleaning the freezer out of last summer's corn chowder and taking home leftovers from a free lunch to serve as dinner.

So tonight I had run out of excuses. After making a post-run lunch of fried rice from leftover chinese (which was delicious), I wanted to eat something for dinner that wasn't pasta or rice. I've been getting a twice-monthly delivery of farm eggs but I didn't feel like an omelette or frittata. While perusing Judy Roger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook for an oxtail recipe I came across the perfect solution to my dinner: Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs. It's even written to serve one person. It's great when the universe confirms your're being single is still ok.

I have to say that as much as I love improvisation and cooking from instinct, sometimes it's nice to just follow a recipe and enjoy the consistent results. The recipe has you toast some olive-oil saturated breadcrumbs in a pan and, when they're hot, cracking some eggs on top. After the eggs are cooked and plated you deglaze your with some sherry vinegar and then pour it over the eggs.

I reserved some of the breadcrumbs so that I could cook them over-easy safely, without fear that my non-nonstick pan would disturb the yolks. With the indulgent purchase of some arugula, I made a salad bed featuring greens, thin slices of lemon, minced garlic and olive oil. I decided to open the wine as a token of my commitment to enjoying a meal, and it was the right choice: a ridiculously cheap and good Oregon Pinot that, if I were smarter, would snatch a case tomorrow.

Oeufs Pour Un
with thanks to Judy Rogers

3 T. bread crumbs, homemade
about 2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs, the better, the better
1 T sherry vinegar (red wine or balsamic also ok)
freshly ground pepper

handful of peppery arugula or chopped radicchio
1/4 lemon, sliced paper thin
1 clove of garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper

The salad greens:
Toss lemon and garlic with arugula in a mixing bowl. Add enough olive oil to glisten the leaves and toss with some salt and pepper. Plate the greens.

The eggs:
Sprinkle the crumbs with salt, then drizzle with enough of the oil just to oversaturate them. Reserve 1/4 of the crumbs to sprinkle on top.

Place the crumbs in a 6-8 inch omelette pan or skillet and set over medium heat. Let the crumbs warm throughout, then swirl the pan as they begin drying out. They will start to brown. Watch your heat so they don't blacken, and quickly add the remaining oil (and fresh herbs like thyme or marjoram, if you have them handy) , then crack the eggs directly over the crumbs. Let the whites firm a bit and sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the eggs. when the whites are solid, gently flip the eggs over and cook until over easy.

Slide onto your plated greens and then add the vinegar to the hot pan. Swirl the pan once, then pour the sizzling vinegar over the eggs.