Wow! What a month it has been. Spring always brings a lot of chores and clean up from the Winter. We look forward to it and then work like crazy to make things nice again. It is a vicious cycle but we always welcome it clutching our garden tools and anticipating the new life that will expose their little heads and shout, we’re back! In addition to garden delights, Spring birth has greeted us in another way this year with the coming of a new grandchild, Zahid. We are very excited to welcome him to our family and look forward to his presence at our table. He is not quite eating pasta yet but that day will come soon enough. This is a Nonna’s dream indeed.
You know how it is this time of year, waking hungry with a stiff back and sore muscles. Where do all those weeds come from? If you’re like me, a morning like this, calls for comfort food. With this in mind I move to the kitchen and start to think of what I can make that will feel almost as good as a soothing massage, almost. My thoughts go to grits. I know I am not from the South (perhaps in a former life because I love Southern cooking) but grits and eggs really do it for me. Many people think of grits as dull and boring but when seasoned well and handled properly, they are scrumptious. Add to that a deliciously poached farm fresh eggs and I’m in heaven.
Let’s talk grits. Think you hate them? Try this recipe using fresh goat cheese (chevre) and Parmigiano-Reggiano and see what you think. If you still dislike them, then I am resigned to your life-long aversion. It goes like this. If you have the time and like a coarser texture, use stone ground grits, found in some groceries or online. If in a hurry or live where stone ground grits are hard to come by, try the ready in 5 minutes variety, available everywhere. Some chefs would slap me for that recommendation, but sometimes you have to use what’s available both for product and time.
For two servings:
Bring to boil 2c water and add a healthy pinch of sea salt. Gently sprinkle in 1/2 c grits and cook over medium high heat until creamy and pulls away from the sides of the pan (or follow package directions for cooking). When done, add 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and about 1 1/2 oz. of chevre. Stir to incorporate and keep warm.
Poached eggs: I was always afraid to poach an egg directly into the water as it seemed so daunting. I had many disasters until I figured out the right method. Yes, there are many devices on the market to “help” with the process and I can say from experience, the eggs done in those little cups and other wares do not produce the same result. So, get over it! This method works and you will love the results.
There are a few things that make this process less intimidating:
First, start with a fresh egg. As an egg ages, the white deteriorates which is why some poached eggs go floppy and are surrounded by tendrils of white.
Second, is acidulated water. In simpler terms, this is adding acid (usually vinegar) to the water which helps to tighten the white so it will not run all over. I usually add the vinegar to the water when heating it up but another method is placing the raw egg directly into 1/4 cup of vinegar and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes before cooking. This really helps the egg keep it shape.
Third, bring the water to a boil in a shallow pan and then reduce the heat until the water is at a very gentle simmer. If you put the egg in rapidly boiling water, it will scatter all over.
Recipe: Makes 2
1/4 c vinegar (apple cider or white distilled or vinegar of choice)
2 large fresh eggs
Sea salt + flaked sea salt for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
- Crack each egg into its own small bowl, taking care not to break the yolk.
- Meanwhile bring a shallow saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the vinegar to the water and stir. Working close to the surface, slip the eggs into the water one by one. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Halfway through the process, carefully slip a thin spatula or slotted spoon under each egg to make sure they do not stick to the bottom. Carefully remove eggs with a slotted spoon and pat the bottom with a clean towel or place on a paper towel to drain. Trim edges with kitchen shears for uniformity, if desired.
To serve, divide the grits into two bowls and lay an egg on top of each. Season with flaked sea salt and pepper. For color add some chopped herbs like basil, parsley or chives. For more drama make a slit in the egg to allow the yolk to slightly run.
Do Ahead: That’s right! Who knew you can do these up to a day before? To do so immediately transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Cover; chill. Re-warm in a saucepan of gently simmering water for 1 minute.
Wondering why these yolks look so glorious? These are farm to table eggs laid just 5 minutes from my home. Oh yea! They are so good. Learn more about where they come from at Five Green Acres. They are so worth seeking out near you.
Enjoy your Spring or Summer, depending where you live, and continue to spread the love one dish at a time. Let me know if grits have become one of your comfort foods.