Eggs are a truly miraculous food. They enrich, they bind, they nourish, and they color. They come in myriad colors and sizes, but aside from leaner or fatter, the shape is pretty much the same all around.
Eggs are one of the world's great foodstuffs - every culture has had their way with them, and we're really all better off for it. Pickled, coddled, soft-boiled, fried, scrambled, or just stirred into hot pasta, they make everything better. Really.
But until you have had a truly fresh, local, all-natural egg, you just haven't lived. Until you have cracked a speckled blue Araucana egg into a hot pan and watched its orange - not yellow - yolk slide out and stand at attention in the middle of the white (displaying what egg aficionados refer to as "muscle tone"), you haven't made a fried egg the way it was meant to be made.
This weekend, it probably goes without saying, I went a little nutty with a half-dozen local eggs I bought at the Greenmarket on Saturday morning.
First up, lunch. I had some bacon lying around, and had bought some gorgeous cucumbers, red leaf lettuce, wild spring onions (in addition to a few bunches of ramps), and shallots. I decided to combine everything into a delicious bastardization of my favorite salad, frisée aux lardons.
I mixed up a sherry-shallot vinaigrette (adding a bit of honey to mellow out the vinegar and help emulsify things without adding too much oil), cleaned the lettuce, and sauteed the onions in the rendered bacon fat. The cukes went down over the lettuce, then the dressing, then the bacon and onions, and, finally, I fried that blue egg up and put it right on top. Oh, yeah. Seriously good - even better once I'd poked the yolk and mixed the eggy goodness into the rest of the salad.
Still to come, chapters two (chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise) and three (fresh pasta with ramps, bacon, and an egg).
Greenmarket Lettuce aux Lardons
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil
2 strips bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch batons
1 tbs olive oil
5-6 spring onions (or scallions), cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups (about 1/4 head) red leaf lettuce, ripped into bite-sized pieces
1 small Kirby cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons
Make the dressing: in a small, heavy bowl, mix the shallot, mustard, honey, salt and vinegar together until combined. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Set aside.
Make the salad: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until crisp and until most of the fat is rendered out. Take the bacon out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all but 1/2 tsp. of the bacon fat from the pan, add the olive oil and the onions, and sautée until the onions are tender and slightly browned. Add to the reserved bacon.
Wipe the pan with a damp paper towel, add a bit more olive oil, and fry the egg over medium heat until the white is just set, but the yolk is still runny. Meanwhile, arrange the lettuce, cucumbers, onions and bacon in a shallow bowl or on a plate, and top with the dressing. Once the egg is done, slide it out on top of the salad - and eat right away!