• Stir It Up: Good (and easy) eggs
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     | March 07,2014
     
    Photo by Sara Remington

    Bacon and eggs make a delicious comeback, baked here with spinach and goat cheese. The recipe and photo are from “Kitchen Confidence” by Kelsey Nixon.

    What’s for breakfast? There was a time when the answer was bacon and eggs. Then the egg fell victim to cholesterol concerns and the bacon copped to a “high-fat” rap, plus frying up eggs and bacon seemed like too much work. Pretty soon everyone you knew was pounding a fruit smoothie or gobbling an energy bar in the car on the way to work or school.

    Meanwhile, the egg had been cleared of most of the charges against it, and bacon is considered one of those “fine in moderation” foods (two cooked slices have 73 calories, 6 grams of fat and 202 milligrams of sodium), while concerns have been raised instead about the sugar content of juice drinks and the processed soy and high-fructose corn syrup in some energy bars. Bacon and eggs seems once again like a reasonable option for breakfast — and, come to think of it, not one that takes a lot of time or effort.

    Leave it to Kelsey Nixon, host of “Kelsey’s Essentials” on the Cooking Channel, to offer a simple and simply delicious recipe for baked eggs with bacon in her new cookbook “Kitchen Confidence.” Her dish includes spinach and goat cheese and is a Sunday-brunch-at-a-fancy-restaurant dish that is easy enough for a weekday morning.

    If you want to cook it old-school, stick with plain bacon and eggs. Here are some hints for cooking each.

    Perfectly cooked bacon (adapted from “The Bacon Cookbook,” by James Villas, Wiley & Sons, 2007):

    1. To fry: Lay bacon in a single layer in a cold, heavy skillet. Set over medium-low heat and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. To broil: Line a broiling pan with foil and lay bacon on a rack over the pan. Set the pan (with rack) 3 to 4 inches from the heat source of a preheated broiler. Broil 6 to 10 minutes, turning frequently and watching carefully to prevent burning.

    3. To bake: Prepare as for broiling. Bake for 20 minutes in the upper third of an oven preheated to 350 degrees (best for thick-cut bacon that you do not want to become very crisp).

    4. To microwave: Not recommended, as it can easily result in dried-out, hard bacon.

    Perfect fried eggs (adapted from “The Good Egg,” by Marie Simmons, Houghton Mifflin, 2006):

    1. Choose the right size pan (a 6-inch pan for one egg; 8-inch for two eggs; 10-inch for three or four eggs. For more than four eggs, fry in batches).

    2. Use 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil per egg.

    3. Start with an empty, cold pan and heat it slowly over medium-low heat; then add the fat and heat slowly until it begins to sizzle; then add the eggs.

    4. Break eggs into a shallow cup or saucer and then slide into pan. (This allows you to pick out any shells and to save an egg with a broken yolk for another purpose.)

    5. Cook over low to medium heat. For sunny-side-up eggs, cook 4 to 5 minutes, covered (for delicate white and creamy yolk) or uncovered (for yolk and white slightly browned on the bottom).

    6. For eggs over easy, cook as for sunny side up (above) and flip during the last 15 to 20 seconds of cooking. Use a wide spatula.



    Baked Eggs

    Yield: 4 servings

    6 slices applewood smoked bacon

    6 ounces (4 loosely packed cups) fresh baby spinach

    2 teaspoons cider vinegar

    1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

    Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

    4 large eggs

    2 ounces soft goat cheese, divided into 4 (½-ounce) portions

    Toasted baguette slices, for serving



    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a plate with paper towels.

    Fry, broil or bake the bacon until crisp, as above. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain. When cool, crumble.

    Pour off and reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the skillet. Add the spinach to the skillet and saute over medium heat until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and mustard, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until no liquid remains, about 2 minutes more.

    Using the reserved drippings, lightly grease four (1-cup) ramekins. Carefully crack an egg into a shallow cup or saucer; if any of the yolks break, cover and refrigerate for another use (within 24 hours). Gently slide one egg into each ramekin. Season each egg with pepper. Divide the spinach among the ramekins and top with crumbled bacon.

    Set the ramekins on a baking sheet. Bake until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 15 minutes.

    After removing ramekins from the oven, top each egg with ½ ounce of goat cheese and serve warm with toast.

    (Recipe from “Kitchen Confidence,” by Kelsey Nixon, Clarkson Potter, 2014)



    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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