Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gaine du Oeufs et Jambon

(A recipe from a good friend who lives in the countryside of France - basically Spaghetti with Ham and Eggs)
  • Butter
  • Cooked Spaghetti (leftover is great)
  • Ham (prosciutto, cappolina, country ham, Canadian bacon, etc. - something flavorful and ultra thin)
  • Whole eggs
  • Greens (spinach, arugula, endive, kale, cooked collards, beet greens, dandelion greens, watercress, chard, etc. - whatever you can round up, something a tad bitter is best)
  • Garlic
  • Capers (if you have them - be sure to rinse them)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Limes
  • First decide how you want to cook the eggs. The traditional way is to poach them. But that's a PITA. So the easiest way is to melt a good bit of butter (2 tablespoons per egg is about right, yes, tablespoons) over medium low heat. Crack just a couple eggs in at a time and let them cook slowly w/o touching. Traditionally the eggs are served w/ runny yolks. So you'd cook them sunny side up. In a pinch you can also soft scramble them but it makes for a mucky presentation.
  • Once the eggs are done, if you cooked them in butter instead of poaching, drain the remaining butter from the pan and leave a light residue. This saved butter will become your sauce. If you poached, well tackle the butter in a few minutes.
  • Now, heat minced or pressed garlic over medium low heat (you don't want it to brown). Once the garlic is warmed through to take the edge off of it, add the greens, ham and red pepper flakes. Add the rinsed capers if you have them. Heat over medium. You just want to ever so slightly wilt the greens and start to warm the ham through. Dump the wilted greens and ham into the same bowl as the pasta - we'll mix and heat it all in a minute.
  • Pour the butter back into the pan (or if you poached your eggs melt about 1 1/2 tablespoon of butter per serving) and heat over medium until the butter starts to brown. The butter solids will turn a caramel brown. Be careful. The line between brown and burnt is a very thin one!
  • Once the butter gets brown immediately dump the spaghetti, greens and ham into the pan and toss to coat. Warm everything through. You can add a splash of olive oil if you didn't have enough butter. Place the whole poached or sautéed eggs on top of the spaghetti and cover with a lid if possible to let them warm back up.
To serve:
  • Each serving gets an egg and the pasta and greens mixture.
  • Make a nest of pasta in a bowl or on a plate and place the egg in the middle. Top with chives or diced red onions and chopped parsley or cilantro. (red onions and cilantro are my favorite)
  • Splash with the juice of a lime wedge and add a wedge to the side of the dish. Lemon will do also. Just need something to cut the sweet taste of the brown butter.
  • Caramelized onions are a wonderful addition.
  • Anchovies or sardines instead of ham.
  • Really crisp bacon works well. You can use some of the bacon fat instead of butter. Use lemon instead of lime though since the lime fights with most bacon flavors.
  • Fresh pico de gallo works well as a garnish.