Monday, December 22, 2008

Polenta Jacket

It's bone-chilling, paw-freezing, no-messin' around cold outside. Combined with my usual winter blues, it's hard to want to get out of bed in the morning. Especially when your apartment is drafty and you have no control over the heat.

That being said, the thought of polenta with a lacy fried egg and applewood smoked bacon did the trick this morning. Damn good. Nap inducing, which wasn't entirely helpful, but it thickened my blubber and prepared me for the world outside my door.

I don't have a proper recipe for polenta. I use the coarse ground variety that we carry at Zingerman's and cook it with chicken stock. The ratio I prefer is usually 3 parts stock to 1 part polenta- less stock for a thicker body, more if I want it to be loose. Whisk the polenta into hot stock over medium heat and whisk it for 15 minutes or so on low heat. Easy, straight forward. This morning I added a few tablespoons of demi glace (which is making a rare appearance in my fridge), and it added to the richness.

I fried up a thick strip of bacon with a few leaves of sage, and then added some butter and fried an egg sunny side up over med-high heat. I particularly love the lacy edges that come from cooking an egg in a hot cast iron pan, especially when juxtaposed with a runny yolk. Salt. Pepper. Parmesan. In temperatures like these, blubber building meals like this are a survival technique.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowed in w/ coffee and a chorizo tortilla

We've had a fairly major snow storm, and work just called to tell me that I don't need to be in until 2pm. I hadn't planned on having so much time today, but I'm not complaining. Last week's broadcast of This American Life, "20 acts in 60 minutes," is keeping me in good spirits, and I'm midway through putting together lemon scones, but stopped to take a breakfast break. I reheated some of the recipe below, and brewed a press pot of Intelligentsia's 'El Gallo Breakfast Blend,' which is a blend of Latin American beans. It's getting better as it cools, which is my favorite thing about drinking coffee- the way the flavor evolves as the temperature cools.

Yesterday my friend Marshall and I cooked from Michael Roux's 'Eggs'- a beautiful book dedicated to all things eggs. We chose this book because Marshall has a brood of chickens (affectionately known as 'his girls') who produce some exceptionally delicious eggs. We chose a recipe for a Spanish tortilla with chorizo.

(adapted from Michael Roux)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 russet potato, peeled & cubed
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
salt & pepper
about a 1/2 pound of hot chorizo
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
2 T flat Italian parsley, chopped
6 eggs

In an 8-inch non-stick skillet, heat the oil. Add the diced potatoes and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the onions, salt lightly, and cook for another 10 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the chorizo into thin slices (about 2mm). Add them to the skillet with the garlic and parsley. Mix them up well, without crushing the potatoes, and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Tip everything onto a plate and allow it to cool slightly. Wipe clean the skillet with a paper towel.

Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet. Delicately stir the slightly cooled potato mixture into the eggs, and then pour all of it into the pan. Start cooking over medium heat, stirring gently every few minutes with the side of a fork, as if making an omelet.

As soon as the eggs are half cooked, stop stirring, and cook over very low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the underside of the tortilla is almost cooked. Slide it onto a lightly oiled platter, then invert it back into the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, until both sides are cooked the same and the middle of the tortilla is still soft.

Slide the tortilla onto a plate and serve it whole or cut into wedges. it is equally good served hot, warm, or at room temperature, but not chilled.