Happy almost the end of October, y’all!
For this week’s Cookbook Sunday dinner, I made a modified version of Sean Brock’s recipe for crispy fried farm eggs with fresh cheese, pickled mushrooms, watercress, and red-eye vinaigrette. Like the previous recipes, it’s a long one, with many steps and a delicious ending. Thankfully, many of the steps can be completed ahead of time, making the actual execution a little quicker than you might think on first glance. It looks like a doozy of recipe but the pickled mushrooms are done at least a week early; the farmer’s cheese can be done the day before; the eggs can be soft-boiled and peeled the day before, and stored in the refrigerator; and the dressing can be made the day before.
In addition to cutting the recipe in half, I made quite a few modifications to the recipe in Heritage. The original recipe specified chanterelles–we had cremini and shiitakes, so those were the mushrooms that were pickled. The original also used rendered ham fat; I’m mostly a vegetarian, minus occasional seafood, so, the ham fat was out. I added a little smoked sea salt instead, and a little more oil. I also modified how I made the farmer’s cheese, following the recipe from Kenji Lopez at Serious Eats that’s pretty fool-proof and delicious. The other substitution was for the honey vinegar. This is a vinegar made by taking equal parts honey and water and aging for 2 years; it’s not readily available and it’s a little expensive (~$49 for 16.9 oz). So, I made a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-kind of substitution using equal parts honey and Champagne vinegar; this was actually delicious all on its own.
Now, I’ve never fried an egg like this, so, it was an adventure, and the play on texture was great with the thin crispy crust, the just-set egg white, and the velvety yolk that coated the greens when the egg was cut open. Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of the watercress that I used, and I don’t know if it’s because I don’t like watercress (too much stem) or I just bought the wrong stuff, or it’s just the wrong time of year for watercress. I would make this again but probably with different greens, like baby arugula, thinly sliced kale, thinly sliced escarole, or some mix of all of it. The eggs and the pickled mushrooms were the big winners for this dish, taste-wise, and it plated beautifully. Apologies for not measuring the weights for this one; I blame the weirdest Seahawks game ever.
Crispy fried farm eggs with fresh cheese, pickled mushrooms, watercress, and red-eye vinaigrette
Original recipe served 6; modification is for 3
Heritage by Sean Brock
1 1/2 lbs Mushrooms (chantarelles, cremini, shiitake, etc.)
3/4 C Rice wine vinegar
1/4 C Apple cider vinegar
3/4 C Sugar
1/4 C Honey
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Whole-grain mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
2-3 Thyme sprigs
1 Fresh bay leaf
Fresh Farmer’s Cheese
2 C Whole milk
1/4 C Heavy cream
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp White vinegar
1/8 tsp Salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
2/3 C Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Honey Vinegar*
1 Tbsp Smoked Salt*
2/3 C Grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Lemon juice
2 tsp Instant coffee granules
Crispy Fried Eggs
4 Large eggs
2 C Canola oil
1 C All-purpose flour
2 C Panko bread crumbs*
Freshly ground black pepper
2 C Watercress, washed and dried
1/4 C Red onion (1/2 small red onion), thinly sliced
- Pickle the mushrooms at least 1 week in advance!
- Lightly rinse the mushrooms—do not soak them.
- Dry the mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces, and put in a clean glass container.
- Combine the vinegars, sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, salt, thyme, and bay leaf in a small stainless steel saucepan, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once the sugar and honey are dissolved, pour the brine over the mushrooms, and cool to room temperature.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 week before eating.
- Mushrooms will keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Line a fine strainer with cheesecloth or a couple of paper towels.
- Combine milk, cream, vinegar, and salt in a microwave-safe container,
- Whisk to combine.
- Heat on high for 3-5 minutes—curds should form.
- Poor the hot mixture into the lined strainer; let sit for at least 4 hours at room temperature, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
- Once the cheese is firm, transfer from the cheesecloth (or paper towels) to a bowl and add the pepper—stir to combine. The whey that drained out of the cheese can be used for cooking grits, adding to pancakes, or to smoothies—refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Cheese will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Combine the vinegars in a bowl (or large mouth jar with a tight-fitting lid).
- Whisk in the remaining ingredients, or combine with the vinegars in the large-mouth jar and screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously to combine.
- Sean Brock notes that this will be broken vinaigrette and won’t be smooth.
- Keep refrigerated for ups to 3 days.
Crispy Fried Eggs
- Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat; add 1 Tbsp salt.
- Make an ice bath in a medium bowl with equal parts ice and water.
- Once the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon to add the 3 eggs to the water. Cover and boil for exactly 5 minutes and 15 seconds, then transfer to the ice bath.
- As soon as the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs while still in the ice bath, the remove and drain well. Note, be patient with peeling the eggs—these are very softly boiled!
- Set-up a breading station with flour (lightly salted) in one bowl, one egg whipped with about a teaspoon of water in a second bowl, and the bread crumbs (lightly salted) in the last bowl.
- Heat the canola oil to 350.
- Bread the eggs by first dredging in the flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
- Fry until golden (about 2 minutes)—the egg yolks should be runny when the eggs are cut into.
- Combine the watercress (or baby greens), onion, and 1-2 tablespoons vinaigrette, or more to your taste—toss to combine.
- Divide the salad between two plates.
- Crumble 2 Tbsp cheese over each plate, top with the fried egg and 5-6 pickled mushrooms.
– The original recipe called for honey vinegar–but, as I said earlier, I had none of this on hand and just sort of winged it!
– The smoked salt was my addition and was originally 1/4 C plus 1 Tbsp rendered hat fat.
– For the Panko, the recipe said to finely ground the crumbs in a processor; I didn’t do this and it worked great!