I was honored when Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! recently invited me to take part in February’s 5 Star Makeover (a huge thank-you to Natasha and Laz!), and then when I found out that the theme was “Bacon and Eggs” I was thrilled beyond words. Initially I didn’t know if I wanted to go the sweet or savory route for my dish, but after much brainstorming (to name just a couple of my ideas, how good does Herbed Choux with Bacon Custard or Savory Custard with Sweet Bacon Tuiles sound?), I decided on savory. Not only that, but I decided to keep it simple, with a dish that’s more reminiscent of bacon and eggs with toast than anything else.
In my mind I knew exactly what I wanted. For the bacon part, a pretty stack of toast rounds spread with garlic mayonnaise and fried (my version of “toast” for this dish), then layered into stacks with a creamy, flavorful bacon paste…a bacon pate, if you will. And for the egg component, I wanted nothing less than a glistening egg yolk (hold the white, please), poached to perfection in olive oil, sitting atop my bacon pate toast stack, oozing into oblivion and creating its own creamy sauce to engulf the whole dish. That’s not asking for too much is it? ;)
I started with the bacon pate, not only because is it the easiest component, but also because it can be made up to three days ahead of time (while the yolks have to be poached right before serving). I focused on bringing out the flavor of bacon with subtle enhancements from other flavors – vinegar for tartness, brown sugar for sweetness and a slight hint of bitterness, and soy sauce for umami. Celery, onion, garlic, bay, chives, and thyme also add various notes of flavor.
As far as the egg yolks, at first I wasn’t quite sure how to go about poaching them to achieve the result I wanted. I read a couple of articles on the properties of egg proteins (this one was particularly helpful) and in the end I decided that a water bath in the oven would probably be the best way to go. It ended up working perfectly for my purposes and I couldn’t have been happier with the result…a creamy, perfectly poached yolk bathing the whole dish.
To finish it off I chose a couple of very simple garnishes: chives (for two reasons…they’re so pretty, plus they’re in the pate!) and thinly sliced cornichon. Since cornichons are usually served with pate to cut through the richness and provide a nice contrasting texture to the pate’s softness, I thought adding a few thinly slices of cornichon to this dish would be a nice play on that classic combo.
I thought the poached egg yolks would be my favorite part of this dish (after all, runny egg yolk is nature’s perfect sauce), but all in all, the bacon pate ended up being mind-blowingly amazing. In the end I have to say that my favorite part of this dish is how everything comes together so nicely to complement each other.
By the way, if you make this and have leftover bacon pate, I have a few ideas for how to use it:
- Sandwich condiment
- Omelet filling
- Cracker spread
- Combined with sour cream as a dip for crudités/crackers/chips
- Combined with cream cheese as a spread for bagels
- Warmed up with cream and tossed with pasta
- Topping for grilled chicken/steak/tofu/veggies
- In salads (I speak from experience when I say that a huge bowl of salad greens topped with naught but this and a poached egg is perfection.)
(Yield: 4 servings)
Bacon Pate (can be made up to 3 days in advance):
2 TB canola oil
6 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 large stalk celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 TB minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (or ⅓ teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or tamari)
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
For the Bacon Pate:
- Heat 1 TB oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add bacon and cook until crispy (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for now.
- Turn heat down to low and to the same pot, add the remaining 1 TB oil, onion, celery, and bay leaf; cook until the veggies are softened (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic, chives, and thyme and cook another 2 minutes.
- Cool slightly, then transfer the bacon and veggies to a food processor along with ½ c water; puree until smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
- Transfer the puree back into the pot and add vinegar, brown sugar, tamari, and pepper; bring up to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer until it forms a smooth, thick paste (about 25-30 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Poached Egg Yolks:
4 large egg yolks
For the Poached Egg Yolks:
- Preheat oven to 200F.
- Fill a bowl with hot water from the faucet (it should be about 105F); put eggs in water and let them sit until they come to room temperature. (Check them and turn them over every few minutes so they can come up to temperature on both sides. They’re ready when they don’t feel hot or cold to the touch. You may need to add more hot water if they’re not warming up fast enough.) Once the eggs are the right temperature, remove them from water and dry them off. Separate the yolks from the whites (put 1 of the whites in a separate bowl since you’ll need it to make the garlic mayonnaise; use the other whites in another dish).
- Fill an 8- by 8- by 2-inch pan with about 1 inch of hot water from the faucet. Fill 4 (6 oz) ramekins about ⅔ full with olive oil and with your fingers, gently place 1 egg yolk into each ramekin (the yolks should be completely submerged in the oil). Put the ramekins into the pan of water and bake 35 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the egg yolks.
1 large clove garlic, peeled
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg white
½ c canola oil
1 TB lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons cold water
For the Garlic Mayonnaise:
- Add garlic and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add egg white and pulse a few times until frothy.
- Gradually add oil in a thin stream while pulsing.
- Pulse in lemon juice and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
- Pulse in cold water a couple times until smooth and creamy.
Good quality bread (I used a multigrain sourdough)
Canola oil (for frying the bread)
A few cornichons, thinly sliced
A few chives (for garnish)
- Use a round cookie cutter (about 2 inches in diameter) to stamp out 12 bread circles (you will use 3 circles per stack); spread a light layer of garlic mayonnaise on both sides of each bread circle.
- Heat a large (preferably nonstick) skillet over medium heat; add oil to coat the bottom and once hot, add the bread. Fry until golden on both sides, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
- To make each stack you will need 3 bread circles and 2 slightly heaping tablespoons of pate. Place 1 slightly heaping tablespoon of pate on a bread circle, top with another bread circle, top with another slightly heaping tablespoon of pate, and then top with another bread circle. Repeat 3 times (so that you have 4 servings).
- Carefully place a poached egg yolk on top of each stack.
- Serve garnished with chives and thinly sliced cornichons.