Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Living on the Egg

Uova al Forno in Puré di Patate con Olive, Timo & Pecorino
Eggs Baked in Olive, Thyme & Pecorino Mashed Potato

It was a weird evening and a very frustrating one at that. Supposedly, someone was going to come around and check the meters in the whole house between 7.30 and 8pm. Great. Right at suppertime. Still, I thought, it beats having them come in the middle of the day and having to take time off work. Otherwise, I would probably have ventured out to the supermarket and got some fresh supplies as I was running pretty low on... well, quite a few things, but no, being responsible, I hurried home instead, so that the poor guys could come and get their job done and also get home. 

At least, that was the way the thoughts went through my head... that's just the kind of guy I am I guess. 

And then nobody turned up!

Fortunately, I already started getting worried by 8pm and thought to myself I may as well just get started on supper anyway. Otherwise I might have starved and you all wouldn't have had any pretty pictures to look at. Needless to say- I managed to improvise something. Don'tcha just love it? ;-)

Here are the ingredients. Basically, they consisted of all that was left at home- haha! Just kidding... but only just! I have little, pretty potatoes in the picture below,  but I cooked up 2 large ones to make my mash. Otherwise, all I needed was a sprig or two of thyme, a little parsley, an onion, a bit of garlic (which would be optional I'd say), just a handful of grated Pecorino cheese and a few olives. Seasoning was simply salt, pepper and nutmeg... ll really simple things. But just look what I turned them into!

Whilst the potatoes boiled for the mash, I turned on the oven to 400° and turned on the stove top ready to fry the onion, which I had cut into a fine dice. I fried it in olive oil and added just a little garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, and let it gently sweat and become a gentle, brown color. 

I then added a good pinch of both parsley and thyme, plenty of freshly ground pepper, stirred everything together at a high heat and then deglazed the pan with a good splash of milk. Immediately the milk turned from white to a caramel brown as the good flavor of the onion, garlic and herbs came up from base of the pan- yummy! 

In the meantime, the potatoes were ready to be mashed, and of course I then added the onion/herb and milk mixture to them, along with a light drizzle of olive oil. I added this rather than butter, so as to give the potatoes a distinctly Mediterranean flavor and added a handful of grated Pecorino too, to give it a nice, salty richness... and oh boy, did it ever smell good!

At that point, I debated adding the chopped olives into the mix, but being as the mashed potatoes had already taken on a slightly green color due to the herbs. I personally found this to be very appetizing, but still, I was wary of adding the black olives as I was afraid they might make the potatoes turn a slightly "off-ish" color. So I opted to just sprinkle them on top instead... although I am sure if you stirred them in they would also be fine, if you think that sounds easier...

I spooned the still hot mashed potatoes into a baking dish and then popped them into the oven for 10 minutes or so, in order to let them form a slight crust, get nice and hot and become a little "firmer", before making 3 little wells to crack my eggs into...

I would say that it is a good idea to have the baking dish and the potatoes piping hot before adding the eggs, as this will help them to cook more quickly from below and not simply be exposed to heat from above in the oven. The reason being, that this direct heat from the oven WILL indeed make the yolks a little tough on the very topmost layer, and if you put them into the oven set in cold potatoes, by the time they become hot enough for the egg to set, it will probably completely turn to rubber! So trust me on this- have that dish and those potatoes hot, hot, hot before adding the eggs!

Once you have cracked the eggs into the potatoes and they begin to cook, add a last light sprinkle of cheese and a hint of nutmeg and freshly ground pepper, then pop the whole thing back into the oven at around 250° for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs set. Simple. And delicious!

Serve with a little extra parsley and thyme for a hint of freshness- end get ready to be surprised at how satisfying this tastes! The olives and thyme make all the difference and they are complimented wonderfully by the silky, rich egg yolk... you are going to love it! And so will anyone else who is lucky enough to enjoy these with you!

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