Sunday, August 14, 2011

Playing midwives to an egg

Those of you who know me personally know that grocery shopping is one of my great passions in life. Those of you who don't know me personally--maybe you figured this out last weekend when I admitted that I visited six grocery stores in the space of two days.

So going to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market on is simultaneously one of the most exciting and one of the most frightening experiences in my life. The apotheosis of stone fruit, the hordes, the hoarders, the three-hour line for a roast chicken, the elbows, the free samples, the sunchokes, the guilt, the shame, the million zucchini, the valuation exercise inherent in every bunch of grapes or Early Girl tomato. Is this cantaloupe a good deal at $3.99, or could I find a heavier melon across the breezeway? I think now I know what a day trader must feel like. Except they are making six or seven figures and I'm paying two dollars for a goddamn nectarine. Well, at least I didn't ruin the global economy.

Although maybe Jeff and I did get into a nigh-catastrophic argument later about which stone fruit purveyor has superior peaches (hint: it's Blossom Bluff).

You know how they say don't go grocery shopping hungry? Guess what? I wasn't going to! I was going to go to Liguria Bakery to grab some focaccia! In fact, I did go to Liguria Bakery: I rolled up at 9:30 AM on Saturday morning to beat the lines and to make sure that I got the focacciae of my choice. Well, I was halfway successful: I beat the lines. In fact, I was the only person waiting in line, because Liguria Bakery decided to go on vacation from August 1 - 21. Well, okay, they've been making only focaccia since 1911; I guess after 100 years of successful fermentation they can take three weeks to go hang out by Lake Como.

Anyway, no worries! There is a very well-reputed counter-service restaurant in the Ferry Building where they produce an olive oil fried egg sandwich. We braved the 20-minute baby-filled line at Il Cane Rosso (which, to be honest, doesn't require as much bravery as the 30-minute soiled-baby-filled line for the women's restroom) only to discover that just moments before our arrival they had run out of olive oil fried egg sandwich rolls--dozens of olive oil fried eggs were sitting there warm out of the olive oil fryer waiting for someone to run over to Acme and grab another bag of rolls. And let me just say that whoever was running over to Acme was more Wile E. Coyote than Roadrunner, because the wait time for this sandwich jumped up to 15 minutes.

So maybe I said something along the lines of--Jeff we can go home and make a damn fried egg sandwich ourselves and I bet it will cost less than $9. Let's go buy some supplies. Two hundred dollars' worth of heirloom tomatoes later (don't go grocery shopping hungry), here's what we came up with:

I loved it; it was almost like a super BLT, replacing the lettuce with three kinds of fat. Jeff won't tell me if it was better than Cane Rosso's olive oil fried egg sandwich or not. I think he's still mad because I dissed Frog Hollow Farms peaches and I am not apologizing for it. Anyway, here's where this sandwich came from.

Recipe roundup...

Onion jam -- I just caramelized onions using a modified Kenji method. Cook onions over medium heat with a heavy pinch of salt and some peanut oil, maybe a pinch of baking powder (onions caramelize better at a slightly basic pH, which was tangentially the subject of three years of my undergrad research). When the onions start to sizzle and brown on the bottom of the pan, deglaze the pan with a little water and stir the deglazings back into the onions. Let the water boil off and repeat the deglazing every time the onions start to sizzle. Do this for about half an hour, always keeping the onion layer as thin as possible. When you've got them nice and brown, turn the heat down to low and let them sit for another 5-10 minutes to get all the moisture out; when you're satisfied with that, stir in a glug of olive oil. These last two steps are important--I think Kenji's recipe can come out a little watery otherwise. I also think that doing it over medium-high heat introduces too much possibility for burning the onions, and the added sugar at the beginning will make your caramelized onions too much caramel, not enough onions.

Bread -- Green onion slab from Acme, but focaccia would work too. Split in half, dip the split sides in olive oil, toast in a skillet over medium heat until brown.

Pancetta/bacon -- Put your pork in a pan and cover it with a thin layer of water. Cook it over medium heat until the water boils away--this will render out some of the pork fat, so now you're frying the pork in its own fat instead of cooking it dry against the pan. The result will be much crispier. Once the water has boiled off, cook over low heat. You don't want to burn the pork fat.

Olive oil fried egg -- Heat a good bit (at least 1/8 inch) of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until the oil is shiny and very fluid, but not smoking (weird, metallic flavors start to form in olive oil when it gets too hot). Crack eggs one at a time into a small ramekin or teacup and slide them into the oil. Cook without flipping or moving them for about 2-3 minutes. As they're frying, baste the tops of the eggs with hot olive oil from the pan. The eggs should be starting to get brown and crispy on the bottom, but the yolk should be just barely filmed over. Sprinkle with (celery) salt and pepper.

Tomatoes -- Thinly slice some heirloom tomatoes, sprinkle with a good bit of salt and maybe a little pepper about 5 minutes before you're ready to eat.

Goat cheese -- The goat cheese guy was singing an Eastern European folk song about how he just milked his goats yesterday to make serrano pepper goat cheese, so you know it's quality.

Assembly -- For this photo, from bottom to top, we have: bread, onion jam, slices of tomato, olive oil fried egg, bacon, serrano pepper goat cheese, and another slice of bread.

Side dish -- We served this with a cucumber summer fruit salad, which automatically makes the entire meal healthy; I think I actually lost weight eating it. Totally.

1 comment:

  1. This looks SO good! I love that you put a fried or runny egg on everything -- I need to do that more.