Cooking in the vortex.
That phrase could have multiple meanings, both literally and figuratively.
Figuratively, it could stand for so much; cooking while the world spins around you, cooking at the center of the storm, cooking amid chaos. We all have our own types of chaos in our lives. One person’s version of chaos, could be another’s good day. I try to remember this when I have one of those self-pitying, woe-is-my-life moments. For the most part, one of my worst days, is not nearly as bad as another person’s in country where the average family lives on $2 a day, in places where basic human rights are violated or even right here at home. I have my health, my family, my job and a roof over my head and when I remind myself of this, it puts it in perspective right quick. I don’t have to worry where my next meal is coming from, if I have to choose medicine over food, or if, as a woman, I’m allowed to speak my mind, wear what I want in public, drive a car or vote.
Literally, cooking in a vortex refers to the manner in which the eggs for this dish are poached. Somehow, in all my time in the kitchen, this method was unknown to me (as evidenced in my post on the decadent Crispy Poached Egg from a couple of years ago). However, it was recently brought to my attention by a chef I work with who assured me that this is the way to get perfectly formed, compact, poached eggs. Then, a few weeks later, I saw this video post at whiteonrice.com about poaching eggs and I figured it was a sign that I was supposed to try it out for myself. It’s never too late to learn something new.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m now in love with kale, especially when cooked this way which leaves it bright and fresh, but also tender and creamy. The addition of the bacon and egg is just a bonus, the icing on the cake, if you will permit the analogy. It’s a pretty healthy dish too even with the bacon and the butter because they’re really used in minimal amounts.
Poached Eggs With Kale and Bacon
5 oz cleaned and destemmed kale, cut into 2″ pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Fill a deep pot with water leaving at least 3 inches from the top and bring to a simmer. Add the white wine vinegar.
Cut the bacon into lardons (1/4″ strips) and cook until crisp. Drain and reserve the bacon.*
Heat a large saute pan (I use a wok). Add the kale and it in the oil. Add half of the water and toss. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the water and cook until the water has evaporated.
Clear a space in the bottom of the pan and add the butter and garlic. Saute one minute and then stir into the cooked kale. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked bacon. Cover to keep warm.
Crack the eggs individually into a small bowl. Stir the water in the pot, creating a vortex in the center. Drop the egg quickly into the center of the pot. It should spin around, but the most of white of the egg should stay concentrated together. Start a kitchen timer and cook for 4 minutes. When done, remove the egg with a slotted spoon and cook the second egg in the same way. If you are cooking for a crowd, you can poach the eggs in advance, cool them in the refrigerator, and then dip them in simmering water for 20-30 seconds to re-heat. I actually did this with the first egg so that we’d both be eating hot food.
Place the kale with bacon as a base for the egg on a plate, put the egg on top and sprinkle the egg with a pinch of smoked paprika.
*Note, you can cook the kale in the bacon fat which would add an additional layer of porky flavor goodness, but I’m trying to eat somewhat healthy, so I didn’t.