Monday, May 10, 2010

Lets talk about those eggs...

Well, here we are, the next day, and I'm still thinking about those eggs. Or, shall I say, those eggs.

Voted "the best thing at brunch" (tied with the french toast, but we weren't shocked by that), these eggs are a knockout - and a quick one, at that. They are versatile, all ready at once, can be largely prepped ahead, and make your fridge's leftovers into an elegant dish-for-one.

We created/tested this recipe the night before, based on recipes floating in my head, my MacGourmet database, and my browser window, and adjusted to cook at the temperature my oven would be at. (For a lovely picture, and one inspiring recipe, click here.)

That means we happily ate these eggs for dinner Saturday night, for brunch Sunday, and, I must admit, I might have one for a little breakfast-alone this morning.

Though we used savory chorizo, tart-sweet piquillo peppers, unctuous arugula and stretchy Gouda (went overboard with the adjectives - it was just too fun) - please substitute your own best-adjectived ingredients to achieve whatever purpose you feel inclined toward, whether it's dressing to impress, or simply cleaning out the fridge.

I'm imagining spicy salsa, green onions, and leftover potatoes or beans; pesto, portabello and parmesan; garlicky broccoli rabe and fresh mozzarella... the list could go on and on.

Without further ado:

Spanish Shirred Eggs with Chorizo, Roasted Peppers, Arugula, and Gouda

1 tablespoon crumbled Spanish chorizo
1 small roasted red or piquillo pepper, from a jar or roasted at home, chopped into small pieces
a small handful of baby arugula, about 15-20 leaves, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
about an ounce of Gouda. My sliver was sliver-dollar sized. Use less, or more, if you like.
1 egg
1 & 1/2 teaspoons half-and-half or cream
chives, to sprinkle on top, if desired
butter or cooking spray
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F). Choose an oven-safe ramekin, teacup, or mug, as well as a round cake pan, a loaf pan, or a small roaster pan - any ovensafe, flat-bottomed pan is fine, as long as you can set the ramekin inside of it without it touching the sides of the larger pan. This larger pan will hold water while baking. Grease the ramekin lightly with butter or cooking spray

In the ramekin, scatter the chorizo chunks and top with the roasted red pepper.

Rinse the arugula and place (still slightly wet) in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with saran-wrap and punch 1 hole in the wrap. Microwave on high for 1 minute, till bright green. Remove to a strainer or paper towels and press or squeeze to remove excess liquid. When cool enough to handle, break up the arugula-ball into smaller, softer pieces with your fingers, and scatter them on top of the red pepper in the ramekin. Tap down any peaks to create a somewhat flat surface. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt.

Place the cheese on top of the arugula, then crack the egg over the cheese. Tip or shake the ramekin lightly to encourage the white to spread over the bed of arugula as much as it likes. Top with the cream, sprinkle with chives if using, and salt and pepper to your taste. Set the ramekin in the cake or loaf pan.

In the microwave, heat about 2 cups of water in microwave-safe Pyrex or alike, about 2 minutes on high, or till almost boiling.

Place the cake or loaf pan, with the ramekin inside, on the middle rack of the oven. Carefully pour the hot water into the cake pan, until the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the ramekin is underwater. Close the oven door and bake for 12-16 minutes, until the white is puffed and just set, and the yolk still jiggly. Remove the hot ramekin to a plate, run a butter knife around the edge to loosen it from the sides, and serve hot, with toast for dipping.

Serves 1. As you can imagine, quantities can be easily scaled up for serving a crowd. If making ahead, stop before cracking the egg and refrigerate the ramekins, covered, till ready to bake.

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