Egg and Anchovy Crostini
*Spoiler alert! If you don't like anchovies, and/or you don't like eating five-minute eggs (yolks with a creamy viscocity), you won't like this recipe. It's okay - I think you can not like those things and we can still be friends. But if you haven't tried either and think you don't like them, well ... shame on your for poo-pooing.
This dish (perfect for tapas night!) is one of those amazing dishes that is so simple in its make-up, yet it produces a power-punch of flavor. It's ingredients are minimal, but each of the components must be given great attention and care during preparation. That's what makes simple dishes, truly, so wonderful; flawless ingredients and seasoned execution. More on the topic of "seasoning" below.
Let's break down our ingredients, shall we?
I am lucky enough to have friends who bring me fresh eggs. I absolutely adore eggs and I'm not sure if there is anything greater than giving someone who adores eggs that much fresh eggs every week (when the lovely ladies are laying). There is a special place at the front of the great buffet line in the sky for them, I'm sure of it. Last week, I was informed that my friend's turkey (pardoned from last Thanksgiving) was laying and he asked if I wanted the eggs. Yes, please and thank you!
Perhaps you already know that a turkey egg tastes pretty much the same as a chicken egg. It is bigger in size, more like a duck egg, but imagine the yolk being even slightly bigger than a duck yolk. Are you imagining it? Shining in all it's golden creaminess ... Turkeys usually only lay once or twice a year for about a 2-week period, which is pretty much the only reason you don't see them in the grocery store next to the chicken eggs. They simply don't lay enough. I managed to score a full dozen of the golden beauties and immediately knew they'd be perfect for draping the marinated white anchovies I'd picked up a few days earlier.
I realize anchovies are an acquired taste and not a whole lotta folks love them. Regular, canned anchovies, while high in healthy Omega3, are quite fishy tasting and they can completely overwhelm a dish. You'll often see anchovies used in dishes with ingredients that would be rather bland without them: pastas, and salads (Caesar anyone?) are great examples. When using anchovies as a flavor base, the little fillets are conveniently finely chopped, mashed, and melted into the dish which makes it easier for non-fish lovers to pretend they're not eating anchovies. There's no hiding the beautiful white and silver fillets in this beautiful tapas dish from Chris Cosentino's Beginnings cookbook. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
When I first posted my anchovy pic on Facebook, raving about how lucky I was to come across them at our little local grocery store, one of my fisherman buddies jokingly let me know I could have gotten my hands on anchovies whenever I wanted ... down at the local tackle shop. He uses them all the time as bait for hauling in fresh striper from our lake. Thanks, Jarrett! (EVERYone's a comedian, man)
So how are these lovely beauties (white marinated anchovies) different than the canned anchovies you find at the store? Well, white boquerones, a popular Spanish tapas, are less pungent than their canned cousins and they have a wonderfully soft texture. My particular bunch came marinated in sunflower oil, vinegar and salt, and I couldn't wait to drape them over my lovely turkey eggs on toast.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of assembly, I'd like to stress the importance of seasoning in this dish. I feel people don't pay enough attention to seasoning their dish when they're cooking it. For me, it's about layering seasonings, whether it be with salt or vinegar or herbs. Remember, this dish calls for few ingredients so it's important that they're fresh and that each "layer" of the dish is seasoned properly. I promise you paying attention to that little detail will really make your dishes sing!
And listen, if you want to leave the anchovies off and just make a lovely soft-boiled egg crostini with herbs and lemon, it's okay, I promise.
Here's what your dish would look like WITH anchovies:
Here's what it would look like WITHOUT anchovies:
Yep, still looks like something I would want to put in my face-hole for sure! I hope you'll give the anchovies a go, though. Stretch that palate people!
Egg and Anchovy Crostini
Adapted by Chris Cosentino from his cookbook, Beginnings
Serves: 4 as an appetizer
2 eggs (chicken, duck, turkey!)
4 slices of french baguette
Extra Virgin olive oil
1 Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 marinated white anchovy fillets
Make yourself an ice-water bath in a bowl and have it on standby to cool down and stop the eggs when you retrieve them from the boiling water. *If you are using farm-fresh eggs, a great kitchen tip to help the fresh eggs peel easier is to add some salt to the ice water (especially if you crack their little bottoms after cooking). Set a timer for 6 1/2 minutes (Note! If you're using larger duck or turkey eggs, add on another minute to your timer). Bring a saucepan of water to boil and gently lower your eggs into the water. As soon as your eggs go in the water, start your timer and remove the eggs quickly when the time is up, transferring them to the ice-bath. Let them rest in the ice-water for at least five minutes. At this point, you can leave them in the water to cool completely and store in the refrigerator - simply warm them back up when you're ready to use them by placing them in a warm water bath.
While the eggs are cooling in the ice-bath, chop up your parsley and herbs and grate a bit of lemon zest over them, mixing the herbs and zest together.
Brush your bread with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and either grill or toast the bread to your liking. I like the markings on the bread from a grille. When the toasts are crisped to your liking, gently rub each side of the bread with the lemon. If you've never done this before, prepare to become addicted ...
To assemble: carefully slice your eggs in half and place one half on each piece of toasted bread. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and gently drape an anchovy fillet over the egg. Sprinkle the crostini with your herbs and lemon-zest and drizzle with a bit more olive oil to finish the dish.