Fine Cooking (April 2010)
Are your Sunday mornings too relaxed? Do you want to make a delicious brunch, but you worry that it's just not complicated enough? Are you concerned that making traditional Eggs Benedict is simply too easy?
If so, then these Deep-Fried Bacon and Eggs with Lemon-Egg Vinaigrette are for you!
Okay, yes, we know this was included in Fine Cooking's "Classic/Classic Update" feature, which features new twists on traditional dishes. And since it was billed as something of a deconstructed Eggs Benedict, we knew it would be more technical and more complicated than the original.
But this dish lands squarely in the gimme-a-break school of cooking. Between the dozens
of utensils, plates and pans it requires -- not to mention the hour and
a half of prep time -- it's about as far from a lazy Sunday morning as
you can get.
So come along, and step inside our Sunday morning...
First, you must cook the bacon, toast some English muffins and hard-boil some eggs. (Believe it or not, there are some people out there who would actually consider this a perfectly respectable breakfast on its own. But we're just getting started.)
Line some ramekins with plastic wrap. Crumble the cooked bacon, some parsley, and some other eggs into each ramekin.
So far, so good.
Then, gather the plastic wrap to form a little pouch, trying carefully -- and, in our case, almost uselessly -- to not break the yolk. Tie each pouch off with a strip of more plastic wrap.
Then, drop each little sac into boiling water. So far, this was kind of reminding us of our Omelets Sous-Vide experiment from a while back. If only this were so simple...
Honestly, should this ever be a part of your Sunday brunch?
Oh, and we lost one of the pouches in this process because the plastic wrap melted, a hole formed, and the whole thing started seeping out.
Man down! Don't think we didn't eat this, though.
Now you have to put the delicate little egg pouches in the refrigerator for 30 minutes -- or up to two hours! -- to cool.
So you have to just sit around and wait...
Actually, this was our favorite part of this recipe.
While the eggs are still cooling, make a vinaigrette using the hard-boiled eggs you cooked in the first step, along with some oil, lemon, parsley and an anchovy.
Okay, this was actually tastier than it looks.
Then, take the egg pouches out of the fridge, untie them, and dunk them in flour, more eggs, and the bread crumbs from the English muffins you toasted in Step 1 (which, p.s., you then had to cool and pulse in a food processor to make crumbs).
This is getting ridiculous.
Oh, and do you have any idea how hard it is to roll a runny, soft-boiled egg in flour and bread crumbs? It's sort of like trying to take a glob of jam and roll it around in sand, coat it in water, and then roll it in more sand.
Then you scoop up each egg, deep fry it in a vat of oil (which you had to heat up at some point) for a minute and a half, and then set it on a paper towel to drain.
We will grant you that this does, indeed, look delicious.
And -- hey! -- that's all there is to it!
It looks so smug just sitting there...
This is truly a hilarious amount of work to produce essentially six bites of food per person (not including the one egg pouch we lost along the way).
Sure, it was tasty (delicious, actually). But come on -- bacon, eggs, bread? We defy you to combine the ingredients in this recipe in some way that wouldn't be tasty.
We're all for experiments in the kitchen. And we do like the idea of re-interpreting classic dishes. But this was just too much for us on a Sunday morning. After we ate the scant few bites in front of us, we took the plates, bowls, pots and pans, scooped them up, threw them in the sink, and immediately headed out for a sandwich.
All this is not to say that this recipe doesn't belong in a food magazine. Indeed, recipes like this are one of the many reasons why we love food magazines. Plenty of magazines (and more all the time) are doing quickie recipes -- things that you can get from fridge to table in 15 minutes. And we all need those. But we love that most food magazines still offer challenges like this dish -- things that are aspirational, difficult, time-consuming and even downright ridiculous.
We dare you to try to make this at home. But if you do, we recommend having breakfast first.
- 6 slices bacon
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 extra-large eggs
- Kosher salt
For the vinaigrette
- 3 extra-large eggs
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
For the crust
- 2 English muffins, split in half
- Kosher salt
- 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
- 2 extra-large eggs
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 small head frisée (about 5 oz.), torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 cups)
Cook the bacon and eggs
Bring a 6-quart pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Working in batches if necessary, cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, flipping occasionally, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate and discard the bacon fat in the pan. When the bacon is cool, mince it and set aside.
Line four 4-oz. cups or ramekins with plastic wrap, leaving 3 inches of plastic hanging over the edges on all sides. Spray a thin coating of cooking spray on the plastic wrap. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap into 4 strips.
Sprinkle the parsley and then the bacon evenly among the cups. Crack one egg into each cup and season each egg with a pinch of salt. Gather up the loose ends of each piece of plastic wrap, pushing out as much air as possible. Twist the plastic wrap a few times to create a ball shape. Tie each pouch closed with one of the plastic strips.
Put the plastic-wrapped eggs in the boiling water and cook until the egg whites are firmly set but the yolk is still runny, about 4 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Chill in the refrigerator until cool, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Make the vinaigrette
Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook the eggs for 10 minutes. While the eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath and let cool completely.
When cool, peel the eggs and grate them on the fine holes of a box grater.
In a medium bowl, combine the grated eggs, oil, lemon juice, parsley, zest, and anchovy. Season to taste with salt. The vinaigrette will be thick and won’t emulsify.
Make the crust
Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the oven to 200°F.
Arrange the English muffins in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Dry them in the oven for 1 hour; then turn the broiler to high and toast the muffins until golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely.
In a food processor, pulse the muffins into fine crumbs. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside in a wide, shallow bowl. Put the flour in another wide, shallow bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Put the eggs in a third wide, shallow bowl, season with a pinch of salt, and beat.
Pour enough vegetable oil into a 4-quart pot to fill it to a 2-inch depth and heat it to 350°F over medium-high heat.
While the oil is heating, remove the plastic-wrapped eggs from the refrigerator and cut the plastic just below the tie. Peel off the remaining plastic. Working with one egg at a time, gently dredge in the flour and then the egg mixture, shaking to remove any excess. Gently coat the egg with the crumb mixture. Transfer the egg to a large plate and repeat the process with the remaining eggs.
Fry the breaded eggs until golden-brown and warmed through, about 90 seconds. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.
Divide the frisée among 4 plates. Arrange one egg on top of the frisée on each plate, spoon some of the sauce over the frisée, and serve.