In the dead of winter, sometimes you need to be a little creative, particularly when there’s a dearth of greenery. It’s these kinds of moments where you have a limited ingredient palette that I find the most challenging and the most rewarding.
This is a minimalist composed salad — a play, if you will, on the phrase “breakfast for dinner”. I hope you find it as enticing as I did.
This recipe serves one, so you might have to experiment with proportions if you’re cooking for more people.
1 chicken egg
5 thin slices pancetta
1/4 cup baby brussel sprouts — (1)
freshly milled black pepper
fresh lemon juice (optional)
(1) — Baby brussel sprouts are roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the size of normal brussel sprouts. Since they’re so small, they don’t really require a lengthy cooking time. Also, I find that the less you do to them, the better they taste. Substitute regular brussel sprouts if unavailable, although you may have to slightly increase the cooking time to compensate.
Fill two bowls with ice water.
Fill a small saucepan with enough cold water to cover the egg, along with a small pinch of salt. The salt will help make peeling the egg easier once it has been cooked.
Once the water has begun to boil, carefully lower the egg into the pan using a tablespoon. Set a kitchen timer for five minutes. Five minutes is the minimum benchmark, I feel, for soft-cooked eggs. Less than five minutes will generally result in a more liquified egg yolk, while a longer cooking time will result in a more hard-cooked egg. As the water reaches its boiling point again, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering and begin timing. Add the baby brussel sprouts to the saucepan at about two minutes in. Alternately, you can elect to steam the sprouts.
As soon as the timer runs out, remove the egg from the pan and immerse it in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the egg from cooking in its retained heat, and may help prevent any accidental discoloration from forming.
Drain the saucepan and plunge the sprouts in the second bowl of ice water. Drain the bowl and set the sprouts aside.
Peel the egg and quarter it lengthwise. Arrange in a petal-like formation in a salad plate.
Place the pancetta in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium heat. Once the pancetta begins to crisp, add the sprouts and sauté briefly, or until the sprouts are warmed through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste for salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice over the sprouts and pancetta, if desired. Spoon sprouts and pancetta around the egg, then serve at once.
Time: About 25 to 30 minutes.