Monday, April 4, 2011

Mondays in the Kitchen: Salerno-Style Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Bread Crumbs

Simplicity is the name of the game around here these days, when it comes to the kitchen. Every now and then, I get a burr in my hide, and bake a batch of rolls, and most weekends, I make muffins to last us for a few days of snacks, but the dinner hour has had a pretty frantic feel about it lately.

So, when I found this recipe, which requires pretty much only this cast of characters:

and only 15 minutes or so of hands-on time, I was intrigued. And when you pair it with the fact that my kids are gonzo for fried eggs (I know, right? Weird kids.), I was very, very hopeful that it would be a winner.

And it was.

I've made it four times in the last three weeks. You should make it, too, if you're the sort of person who likes fried eggs, and also likes garlic and pasta. It goes really, really nicely with roasted broccoli - you can serve it all in one big, wide bowl. Oh, and you can make the crispy bread crumbs at any point earlier in the day - they keep well. Timing is everything this recipe - be sure that pasta is done before you start the eggs. When you get your bowlful, cut up your egg and toss it all together, so the yolk coats the pasta. And then try not to fall out of your chair when your eyes roll back in your head.

Salerno-Style Spaghetti with Fried Eggs and Bread Crumbs
from The Best International Recipe, from my best buddies, Cooks Illustrated

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
10 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 pound spaghetti (for my current crew, I use half that)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
4 large eggs, cracked into 2 small bowls

For the bread crumbs: Heat oven to 375. Pulse the bread in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Toss bread with about 2 TBS of the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread crumbs out over a rimmed baking sheet, and bake, stirring every few minutes, until golden broand- about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, add 3 TBS of the oil, the minced garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp of salt to a large nonstick skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until garlic foams and becomes sticky and straw-colored (about 8 minutes). Transfer garlic to a small bowl, set aside. Rinse skillet out.

Stir 1 TBS of salt into the pot of boiling water, and add the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente. A minute or two before draining the pasta, return the skillet to low heat for 5 minutes (for the eggs). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, the garlic mixture, 3 tablespoons of oil, Parmesan, parsley, and 3/4 tsp salt, and toss to combine. Cover and set aside to keep warm while you cook the eggs.

When the skillet is hot, add the remaining 2 TBS oil and swirl to coat the pan. Quickly add the eggs to the skillet, using those two bowls to pour them into the skillet at the same moment. Season the eggs with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny - 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover the eggs, and remove from heat.

Loosen the pasta with the reserved cooking water as needed, then divide it into 4 individual serving bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, and carefully slide one fried egg on top in each bowl, serving immedately, and passing extra Parmesan seperately.

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