There are two phrases that always seem to stick in my mind that have to do with cooking and bakeing – “It’s better with butter” and “You can basically fry anything and it will taste good.” I think the latter really has to do with deep fat frying, but if you know what you are doing, and you get the pan to the right temperature, you can make it happen without the fryer.
I have done a lot of frying in my day. In fact, my husband is pretty good at it himself. When we were dating and living in Colorado, one of his most favorite things to make was…wait for it…fried mozzerela. I remember the day he figured out how to make these morsels - without a deep fat fryer. It was genius, I must admit. He took a mozzarella stick, dipped it into an egg batter, then covered it in bread crumbs. He got the pan nice and hot with some oil, and started browning each side. They were delicious.
We don’t pan fry as much as we used to – but I am always looking for new and interesting ways to make things crispy. As you know, poached eggs are my absolute favorite – especially when they are served over a savory hash or rice. I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I was intrigued immediately. I couldn’t get past the crunchy eggs. At first, it freaked me out a little – were they crunchy because of the shells? There was no picture, so I had to read the recipe. Ah, a breaded egg – this is amazing!! Well, I was right – what an incredible texture – and the piquillo pepper mixture with ham was the perfect pairing. My husband, who hates eggs for dinner, LOVED this – he would have eaten twice as much as the recipe called for. So – the next time you are in the mood to fry something, why not try crunchy eggs (without the shells) – and if you get really adventurous, you can serve them with the fried mozzarella sticks. Could life get any better – maybe with just a little bit of butter…
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto, cut into 2×1/4″ strips
- 1/2 cup canned piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers from jar, cut lengthwise into 1/2″-wide strips
- 1/2 cup dry Sherry
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup olive oil
Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Pour water into a large skillet to a depth of 2″. Bring water to a boil; lower heat to maintain a simmer. Add vinegar. Break 1 egg into a small ramekin or bowl. Partially immerse cup in water and quickly slide egg into water. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs. Cook until whites are firm but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to prepared sheet. Trim eggs’ ragged edges with a knife. Slide eggs into a medium bowl filled with ice water. Cover bowl; chill until cold.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add ham; sauté for 1 minute. Add peppers, Sherry, and marjoram; simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a kitchen towel to drain. Mix panko, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Place egg whites in another medium bowl; whisk to loosen. Gently roll 1 poached egg in egg whites, then in panko mixture (some bare spots may remain). Place on plate. Repeat with remaining eggs, egg whites, and panko.
Heat 3/4 cup olive oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat. Gently slide eggs, one at a time, into oil; cook until crumbs begin to brown, about 2 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Divide pepper mixture among 4 plates. Top each with 1 egg and serve.
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