Recipe: "Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs" from "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" by Judy Rodgers
Status: Made several times.
Above is my variation on Judy Rodger's recipe for "Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs"--sunny side up eggs on anchovy bread crumbs which have been dressed up with maitake and porchini mushrooms sautéed in butter, asparagus coins and tips sautéed in olive oil and finished with lemon juice, raw ribboned asparagus, shaved Parmesan, and drizzled balsamic reduction. For herbs, I used tarragon and thyme.
Judy Rodger's original recipe is available online on WashingtonPost.com.
Hints on the Bread Crumbs:
I used homemade bread crumbs which were made by processing the crumb of day-old bread (crusts removed since they are too hard to the machine to pulverize) in a food processor. Judy Rodger's recipe uses fresh bread crumbs, but I baked mine at 250 F for about 25 minutes or until they were dry but not colored, so that they would be dry enough to store indefinitely.
Add oil to the bread crumbs only until they become saturated. It is easy to misread the recipe and assume that all of the oil should be mixed into the bread crumbs. Don't do this; it will make the dish too oily.
A variation on her recipe is to use anchovy bread crumbs instead of plan bread crumbs, which is what I used above. To make, simply saute 1/4 an anchovy fillet in a small amount of oil until the anchovy dissolves (Use a small amount of oil, since the bread crumbs will have already been mixed with oil.). Add the bread crumbs and continue with Judy Rodger's recipe.
Hints on the Eggs:
Preferably use fresh eggs, the kind that were laid yesterday or within the past few days (often sold at farmer's markets). My current favorite are Shelly's Farm Fresh eggs.
I like to use a small personal-sized cast iron pans (6" inches wide) to cook 2 eggs to make a single serving. This keeps the eggs and bread crumbs contained in a compact area.
Keep the heat on medium-low when cooking these eggs. If the heat is too high, you will burn the bread crumbs before the egg cooks through.
When making sunny-side up eggs, the top of the eggs don't cook very fast. This is okay since it takes time for the bread crumbs to color, however I recommend covering the pan with a lid for a few minutes when the eggs are cooking to help the whites on top of the eggs set faster.
Hints on my variation:
Before I made the eggs, I prepared the following ingredients:
- Maitake and porchini mushrooms ripped by hand into bite sized pieces (it makes more texture for flavorings to stick to and is prettier than cutting with a knife). I sautéed each type of mushroom separately so I could control cooking time for that type. To cook, heat a pan on medium-high heat, and melt some butter in it. Let them sit in the pan for a few minutes undistributed when you first put them in, and then don't stir them often, so that they caramelize. After they got some color I added salt. Just before they were finished I melted a final pat of butter and mixed it in and then I sprinkled a final tiny bit of surface salt on the mushrooms. Optionally, a splash of cognac can be added at the end of cooking; cook for about 1 minute more or until the liquid reduces and is mostly absorbed by the mushrooms. There is no need to keep these warm. If there is extra, they can be stored in the refrigerator; since they were cooked in butter, they should be rewarmed to remelt the butter before serving.
- I washed a few stems of asparagus and discarded the woody bottoms. I cut off all of the asparagus tips and sautéed these in olive oil on medium-high heat until chared in places and then salted them and seasoned them with a tiny bit of lemon juice (1/2 tsp or so). There is no need to keep these warm.
- I used a vegetable peeler to make long raw asparagus noodles from 2 of the remaining asparagus stems. I kept these raw to give some contrast to the cooked asparagus.
- With the remaining asparagus stems, cut them horizontally into thin circles or "asparagus coins". These were sautéed in some olive oil (separately from the tips since they cook at different rates), and lightly salted. Once they were done cooking, I also added a tiny bit of lemon juice (1/2 tsp) to give them some extra flavor. There is no need to keep these warm.
- A few shavings of parmesan cheese (aged 24 months) made with a vegetable peeler.
Preferably use prewarmed serving plates.
At the end of the recipe, Judy Rodgers suggests making a balsamic vinegar reduction to drizzle over the eggs. It is a very nice touch. When you make this, make sure that all bread crumbs have been removed from the pan, and pour out any extra oil (if there are extra bread crumbs, then they will soak up all the vinegar and turn into soggy bread crumbs rather than a semi-sweet balsamic reduction.). I recommend making the reduction at the last possible moment--after you have assembled the plates and are nearly ready to serve them. If you make the reduction before you plate the dish and leave the vinegar in the hot pan, it will continue to reduce. Since only a small amount of vinegar is reduced, this makes it harder to control the evaporation and you may find that the vinegar has dried out by the time you are ready to drizzle it.