bought a dozen eggs on Saturday and at the time of writing, there’s not a single egg to be had in the house. Either I need a cluck of hens, or failing that, a cluck of little humans whose favourite breakfasts aren’t waffles and poached eggs or toasted muffins with poached eggs. Seriously though, I’m really thinking of investing in the poultry.
Given our combined fanaticism when it comes to eggs, I took the executive decision last week to invest in an egg poaching pan. You know the kind, it’s that retro jobbie from the ‘70s or ‘80s with the little cups and it churns out artificial looking, bowl-shaped eggs of the perfect size for fitting into the toasted muffins.
I remember using one as a nipper myself and, I suppose, the simple contraption holds a certain physical nostalgia for me. I was also interested to see how the cup-poached eggs compare with my usual vinegar-whirlpool method, which I have utilised religiously for many years and which churns out perfect eggs with soft yolks, albeit, scented slightly with the vinegar.
I can happily report though, that after the first use of my poaching pan with the little cups, I am a convert! A squirt of squirt-y butter spray into the cups, crack in the eggs, set into pan, stick the lid on, turn on the heat… and five minutes later, you’ve a near-perfectly poached egg (with zero scent of vinegar). I say, ‘near-perfectly’ only because the yolk isn’t as runny as it would be with the whirlpool method. But given the handiness of the cups and the fact that I can do four eggs at a time, it’s a small price to pay.
I have also actually come to like the artificial shape of the cup-poached egg. Again, it reminds me of so many poached eggs I used to eat as a nipper – on toast, in toast, surrounded by toast; gawd, but I love toast. When I cast my mind back, it’s no wonder my own father felt the need to establish his own cluck of hens. What goes around, comes around.
In the absence of hens though, I need to buy more eggs. My intention had been to re-share my recipe for tortilla (the Spanish omelette rather than the Mexican wrap) this week which, given the inclusion of eggs, everyone at Rancho Relaxo adores. Of course they do.
As I was telling an affable lady from Donegal of late, I am constantly in awe of tortilla in that, using such humble ingredients, the taste of the finished omelette is always so exquisite. Who knew that combining olive oil, onions, potatoes, eggs and seasoning could be such a revelation? The person who invented tortilla, that’s who.
Best eaten warm, straight off the pan, I have been known to made sandwiches with my tortilla leftovers. A thick slice of the omelette between two hunks of bread, with a slathering of butter and another of ketchup, carbs on carbs… My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
While this recipe is easy to make, it is admittedly a little time consuming, but the effort is definitely worthwhile. This is as good, if not better, than anything you’d get in a tapas bar and to boot, now is the time of year to try it for the first time, if you already haven’t, as the new potatoes are coming through. Waxy varieties are best here, given that they keep their shape more in the finished product. Also, there is actual taste in waxy potatoes. Controversy!
My favourite type to use is Charlotte and it just so happens my father is about to dig his own.
Another essential piece of equipment here is a non-stick frying pan, at around 30cm, ideally with a lid.
• extra virgin olive oil, about 4 or 5 generous tbsps (basically, I pour the oil from the bottle into the pan until the bottom of the pan is covered)
• 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
• roughly 500g of waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds the thickness of a pound coin
• 6/7 large eggs, free range of course
• lots of salt and pepper
Slice the onion and spuds and then dry in a tea towel to take away some of the moisture.
Add the oil to the pan and turn the heat on full blast. When hot, add the spuds and onions, season generously and then toss until well combined and coated with the oil. Now, turn the heat down to its next to lowest setting, stick the lid on and be patient.
Shake the pan from time to time, every five minutes or so, to stop the bottom of the veg catching on the pan. It should steam rather than fry.
You want to cook this REALLY gently for about half an hour, until the spuds are tender.
Crack all the eggs into a large bowl, whisk to combine. Then, take the spuddy onions off the heat and dump into the eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Season a little and stir again.
Add another dash of olive oil to the pan, which you have on a medium to high heat, dump in the eggy, spuddy, onion-y mixture and shake so that things settle. You could even flatten a little with a wooden spoon.
Again, turn the heat down to the next to lowest setting and let it heat through REALLY gently for another 20 minutes. It’s ready when the eggs on top are set.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit for another five minutes before turning out onto a big plate. If it sticks a little, run a knife around the outside to loosen.
Ideally, the best tortilla should be a little wet in the centre, the onions should be sweet and a massive smile should crack your face upon that first bite.
Red or white, as an accompaniment, it’s up to you. Cluck!
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