As a former hen owner, it’s heartening to see that eggs have made a comeback. And even more heartening to read, and cook from, Eggs on Top, which brightly lays out the architecture of eggs, the lexicon of labels, and lots of cooking basics (especially good for those of us who are still a wee bit uncertain about how to best boil, scramble, poach, fry, or bake an egg just so).
After reading about the difference between cage-free, free-range, and hormone-free eggs, I did what author Andrea Slonecker advises: I got cracking. And the recipes in this book are so varied, so approachable, and so darn good, that I’ve been cracking quite a lot lately. Red Flannel Hash with Fried Eggs and Horseradish Cream (for my horseradish-loving husband), and Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad with Eggs Mimosa (for my salad-loving self). Fran showed me up the other day by making the Sage-Brown Butter Eggs in about five minutes time and then texting me a photo of the final dish that I couldn’t stop staring at.
Another recipe that has my attention: Eggs in Purgatory. Weekend brunch food at its finest. “Religious metaphor aside,” writes Andrea, “eggs cooked in tomato sauce is a classic combination. This sauce is a riff on Marcella Hazan’s classic, simple, and delicious sauce of tomatoes stewed with onions and butter. Here it’s spiced up with a pinch of red pepper flakes. When the eggs are cracked over the hot sauce, the cooking process begins. The broiler finishes them off from above, under a blanket of crusty cheese. A hunk of bread is essential for dipping at breakfast, but for lunch or dinner, I prefer a coil of buttered noodles alongside.”
We served ours up with a side of thickly sliced buttered toast. And it was heavenly. Eggs in Heaven.
- 4 room-temperature eggs
- ¼ cup/30 g freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Bread or noodles for serving
- One 14½-oz/415-g can diced tomatoes
- ½ onion, halved again through the root
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- To make the sauce: Put the tomatoes, onion, butter, salt, and pepper flakes in a small sauce¬pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a low sim¬mer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are infused with the onion flavor and the butter appears in glossy swells on the surface, about 45 minutes. If needed, add more salt or pepper flakes. (Marcella discards the onion, but sometimes I coarsely chop it and add it back in to the sauce.)
- Position an oven rack about 4 in/10 cm from the top heating element for loose yolks or in the center of the oven for partially or fully set yolks. Preheat the broiler. Spread the hot tomato sauce to cover the bottom of a shallow baking dish that will just fit the eggs in a single layer, or divide it between two. Crack in the eggs and sprinkle them with the cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and crusty, the egg whites are set, and the yolks are cooked to your desired doneness, 5 minutes for loose and 8 to 10 minutes for firm. Cool for a few minutes, then serve the eggs and sauce over bread or noodles.