There are certain foods that are just hard to photograph. It’s not that it can’t be done. It just presents a challenge, or at least an acceptance that the photograph may not turn out quite as you were hoping or expecting. Cooked eggs are one of my weaknesses.
But, that didn’t stop me from drooling over and fantasizing about the gorgeous photos that I could take of Babbo’s Eggs in the April edition of Olive. The short article featured simply but beautifully placed eggs sizzling and steaming in a crimson tomato sauce. I pictured crusty loaf and maybe some fresh greens lightening up the background.
Using my basic tomato sauce recipe*, I was ready to drop in the eggs. The Olive recipe looked simple enough. In fact, there were practically no instructions at all for cooking the eggs, so I thought, just perhaps, it would just work. Welcome to real life: things don’t always just work.
Truth be told, the recipe was fine if you just wanted to cook and eat the eggs and aren’t worried about whether they look pretty or not. However, I did care. I didn’t want a thick, gloopy mess of tomato sauce and eggs that were on the too shiny side. I wanted rustic and gorgeous.
I’ve made the dish a couple of times now because it took me a while to get photos that I liked. I can’t say I’ve minded, because the eggs are scrumpdeliumptious and I’ve had a couple of very nice lunches as a result. I have also learned a thing or two about cooking eggs in tomato sauce. It’s best to start with a tomato sauce that is a bit on the runny side. Not so thin that you can’t hold onto some of it with a fork. But, you want a bit of excess liquid… it will go away while the eggs cook.
The cooking temperature is also of critical importance, or you’ll end up with a sauce that is way too thick, and eggs that are way too runny. Heat the sauce in a skillet on medium high until it’s starting to bubble. Make little wells for the eggs so you can see the bottom of the pan leaving at least a half inch separation between the wells. Crack the eggs in the wells. Leaving heat on medium high, cook the eggs until the whites are no longer clear. You might shake the pan a bit to keep pushing the whites on top down.
A great way to serve these eggs is on a sandwich… toast up some Italian bread, brushed with olive oil and garlic in the broiler until it’s golden brown. Lift the egg and some of the sauce onto the toast. Top with an anchovy or two for good measure.
*To make a simple tomato sauce, combine a large can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons garlic, and simmer on low in a medium pot for about 2 hours stirring every 10 minutes or so. This allows the tomatoes to caramelize slightly and brings out their sweetness. Add a handful of chopped fresh basil in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
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