Friday, February 13, 2009

Simpletons, Jason's Pleasure. Recipe #3

What follows might seem a little crazy, what with my passion for details. So here's the short form, in case you're hungry NOW.

Cook an egg.
Briefly sauté a couple slices of tomato.
Make the two be friends.

Now for those of you who like the details and the story, or perhaps you've just quenched your hunger and have more patience now...

I like eggs. I make no apologies for that. Do you remember when everyone ran from egg yolks as fast as their stubby legs could carry them while screaming, "I'll have the egg white omelet!" Even at that their friends would give them a sideways glance. Well, my egg devouring didn't skip a beat. Later, when the mighty Experts recanted their foul oaths, I stopped eating them. It's true. I went egg-less for a time, but I returned to my old favourite about three years ago. Since that time, I've usually made eggs in four different ways: over easy, over-cooked over easy, hole in the middle, and scrambled. Tonight I decided on a variation. (Yes, sometimes eggs at night. It's an appetiser; I was too hungry to wait for the rest of my food.) The idea came to me while I pondered my lack of bread and unwillingness to fry potatoes. It's a tip of the hat to the tomato, Peterborough, Jeff, and the East City Diner.

So like, get an egg or two, man. My fave egg is deliciously over easy. Yes, the timing is important, but really, it's all in the pan. For all you saps using Teflon(C), good luck getting this right. Cast iron, baby. It's just as important as a quality, razor-sharp chef's knife. I found my favourite pan at an outdoor flea market. It's your standard 10" model, except it has rounded sides. This way I can get my exercise while tossing my food. If you are one of the unfortunate ones who either don't own or understand cast iron, there are two things you need to know. Most important, don't use a thin pan. (That's fine if you are sautéing something and constantly tossing it, but call me before you toss an egg. I wanna watch.) On a thin pan the heat is very uneven. It's difficult to cook a good egg, and absolutely impossible to cook a decent Reuben sandwich on one. They are the scourge of most kitchens. Second, use a bit of your fave oil or perhaps even butter. (I prefer olive oil.) "Dry" eggs just aren't my thing. They look like they've been tortured, and they lack flavour.

Okay. Down to brass tacks.

Cook an egg in your favourite manner - obviously over easy.

I throw a bit of salt, a lot of coarse pepper, and a healthy dose of cayenne pepper on my eggs. BUT, if you use cayenne don't put it on the egg while it's cooking. Doing so will mute the flavour of the spice and reduce its heat level. I know you don't want that to happen.

And now, the coup d'état.

Get a couple slices off a good size tomato. Don't go too thin. About 1/2" is great.

Get your pan smokin' hot, but don't wreck your fancy Teflon. You release poisonous chemicals into your food if you crank Teflon too high. But please, keep supporting the use of industrial products in cookware.

Hot, but not so hot that your oil is setting off the fire alarm. Keep in mind the differing
smoke-points of oils. Sunflower oil has a very high smoke-point, so your pan will be too
hot when that starts smoking. Olive oil is more mid-range, and butter is lower.

With my cast iron I put the burner at max (but stoves vary) for about 30 seconds with a bit of oil in it. This was right after doing the egg, so the pan was already heated. Then I tossed down my tomato slices, counted off 20 seconds, flipped, counted, removed, and put the egg on top.

Let me tell ya. It's the simple things, baby.

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