Meet the latest addition to the family. I call her Red. She’s about six weeks old, of New Hampshire breeding, and, like most redheads I know, is already showing her feisty personality. As I picked her up for this picture, she pecked away at my hand as if she were trying to eat me for dinner. Of course, with any luck, by the fall the tables will be turned.
Red cost me $2, and she’ll start laying big brown eggs—one a day—sometime in August. The first time I raised my own chickens I did it for the eggs, and I tell you, it’s worth a few pecks on the hand to be able to gather fresh eggs every morning for breakfast. They are totally different than those you buy in the store. The yolks are richer and yellower; the whites are firm, but never bouncy. And chickens basically take care of themselves. Once they’re big enough to be outside, they eat whatever they find, doing a fairly good job at keeping the lawn in check while they’re at it.
This year I only got four chicks, and they will keep my egg shelf well-stocked. Last year I raised two dozen, which meant that I was eating a lot of eggs. So many that I started writing down the recipes. You can check out the outcome of that project, a new cook booklet in the Short Stack Series, featuring, you guessed it, eggs!
When you’re faced with two dozen eggs every day, you start to use them in pretty creative ways: sabayon for dessert, brioche for breakfast, savory bread puddings for dinner. Now that the weather is warm, I’m prone to a salad for lunch. It’s a plate that can use an egg in a way that makes perfect sense, but somehow isn’t obvious.
This week I broiled a heart of romaine lettuce and sprinkled it with lemon juice, anchovy and a little diced shallot. On top I set a perfectly poached egg. When I broke the yolk open it ran down over the leaves, automatically dressing the salad—no oil needed.
Broiled Ceasar Salad With Perfectly Poached Eggs
1 heart romaine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 anchovy filet, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 large eggs
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler.
Cut the lettuce in half lengthwise, then place it, cut-side up, under the broiler until it is browned, about 2 minutes.
Stir together the lemon juice, anchovy, shallot, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and drizzle the dressing over the lettuce.
Bring a large skillet of water to a gentle simmer, then stir in the vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Crack an egg into a small ramekin or bowl, then gently pour it into the simmering water. Repeat with the other egg. Poach the eggs, turning them gently in the water as they cook, until the whites are set, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to paper towels, then to the lettuce. Break the yolks and spread them over the lettuce as you eat.