In which I praise the egg…

The incredible edible egg.

As far as breakfast goes, I am usually over it. Don’t get me wrong, I am always hungry immediately upon waking, but I generally want to skip the breakfast food, and head right to sandwiches and the like. Pancakes are good, especially when my dad makes them into our initials like he did when we were younger, and I like syrup when I have sausage or bacon to dip in it, but 99 times out of 100, I prefer savory breakfasts to things like waffles and french toast. BLTs had been pretty much my perfect breakfast. Enter the egg.

I love the runny yolk. I like scrambled eggs, when they are made with heavy cream particularly, but my favorites are sunny side or soft-boiled. Until I discovered poached. I don’t know what took me so long, but now I can’t get enough. Behold:

poached egg on toast with sweet onions and hot soppressata

pan roasted asparagus with miso butter and a poached egg

leftover onion tart with hot soppressata and a poached egg

corn cake with black beans, cotija cheese and a poached egg

poached egg on toast with sweet capicola

poached egg with boiled kale and garlic toast

Catch my drift? Love, love, love. Adding a poached egg can make disparate leftovers a meal, adds a protein with a built-in sauce, and it looks so pretty! Most of the above are based on leftovers of one sort or another. In fact, my obsession with poached eggs stemmed from leftovers. During free week actually. It all started with the first picture. I had soppressata and melted onions, and I added toast and an egg, and ate it probably three times that week. And the floodgates were opened. I used the leftovers from my vegetarian meal, which I have not yet posted about, for the corn cake and black beans, I used the leftover onion tart I made for bookclub with an egg for breakfast the next day.

The asparagus and miso butter and the boiled kale and garlic toast were both a bit more adventurous. The asparagus dish came out of the Momofuku cookbook that I got for Christmas. The miso butter is a revelation. Fitting, coming from one of the most exciting cookbooks I have ever read. I only had it with the asparagus and egg thus far, but I can’t wait to have it with steak. It is pretty simple, really. You mix softened unsalted butter with white miso, pan fry some asparagus in butter, and add a poached egg. and it is gooood.

David Chang is my hero.

The boiled kale came about because I wanted a poached egg for dinner the other night, and I needed a vehicle for it. I had some bacon, so I thought about a frisee salad, but was immediately bored. I know they are supposed to be great, and one of these days I will make one, but frisee just makes me think of a sad excuse for lettuce, and I wasn’t interested. The blogosphere is all a flutter with talk of kale. I feel like every blog I have read in the past month or so has had a post waxing rhapsodic about kale, cooked until soft, made into soup and baked into crunchy chips (which I have made, they are good) and I thought maybe that would be a good hearty base for my poached egg dinner. Easy, no muss, no fuss, and tasty. Oh my gosh was I right.

I rinsed the kale, removed the stems and any particularly woody ribs, and tore it into pieces. I sautéed bacon, removed most of the fat, added a bit of olive oil, a couple of sliced cloves of garlic and a whole shallot, sliced thin. I let the onions and shallot soften for a minute or two, added the kale and let it wilt. When the kale had wilted, I poured in two cups of chicken stock, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. At the end, I made a last minute decision and it changed everything. I sprinkled the kale with salt and pepper, and then splashed in about a tablespoon of sherry vinegar. This was AWESOME. I toasted a piece of bread, rubbed it with a clove of garlic and some butter, piled on the kale and added the egg. The garlic toast and the sherry vinegar put this over the top. It was surprisingly good, I was so excited.

Surprise! You might like kale...

Basically what I am trying to say here, is that eggs make a lot of things better. And poaching an egg is easy. I fill a medium saucepan about half way with water. I add a pinch of salt and a splash of vinegar. Plenty of sources say to do it that way, the ultimate source, Harold McGee says it is unnecessary, but I have done it both ways, and I prefer to add the vinegar. Feel free to experiment as you wish. I heat the water over medium heat until it looks about like this:

perfect for poaching...

I crack the egg into a ramekin, and then I use a wooden spoon to gently create a slow whirlpool in the water, and then slip the egg into the water. The egg takes about three minutes to poach, the white will be firm and set, and the yolk will be runny and delicious, and hopefully look just like this.

perfectly poached

But usually it looks a bit more motley. The fresher the eggs the more cohesive the white, but usually when you put the egg into the water, some of the thinner white will set right away and look kind of wispy. The fresher the egg the less of the wispy stuff there will be. I usually just spoon it right out.

So there you have it. I have been eating eggs these days. And enjoying it. Here is the recipe for the kale. Because I couldn’t consider myself a food blogger without adding to the cacophony:

Boiled Kale with Bacon (serves 2-3)

3 slices of bacon cut into lardons

1 tbl olive oil

1 large shallot, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 bunch kale (about 8 oz.)

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbl sherry vinegar (or to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

In a high sided saute pan over medium heat, brown bacon until crispy and fat has rendered. Remove bacon from pan, and discard all but two tablespoons of rendered fat. Add the olive oil to the pan with the bacon fat, and reheat over medium. Add garlic and shallots and cooked, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add kale and a pinch of salt and pepper, and let kale wilt. Add chicken stock, bring it to a boil, reduce heat and cover, letting kale simmer for 15-20 minutes, until kale is silky, but before it gets mushy. The kale will lose the bitterness, and should taste rich. Turn off heat and add sherry vinegar. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the top and serve as a side or over garlic toast with a poached egg for dinner.

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