Even for those of us without children at home, late August brings a shift.
The long, slow days of summer are suddenly tinged with the anticipation of fall. Sunset comes sooner, if only by minutes, pushing an urgency to be more productive and get stuff done. The frantic hustle of families with children needing to be ferried to school, practice, games and wherever else children need to be ferried, rubs off, leaving us wanting faster, easier meals, even if it’s only for extra time to play with the dogs, do a little yard work or enjoy a cocktail on the porch swing in the late afternoon sun. Or maybe it’s just because we worked late, as we usually do, and we’re tired and hangry (irritable and hungry) and our bodies still expect dinner on the table around dark.
Tired and hangry know no seasons. They’re constants in our busy lives. Busy with work. Busy with families — young children and/or aging parents. busy. busy. busy. We’re all always so busy. (And often with nothing to show for it.)
So busy we feel guilty when we give ourselves permission to take a minute, an hour, a day to not be busy.
I’m working on that. Freeing myself from the guilt.
Giving myself permission to put my phone on “do not disturb” and sit with a book and read for pleasure.
But back to faster, easier meals.
Whether your life is legitimately hectic (I’m looking at you, parents with ‘tweens) or you’re like me and you simply need more alone time to do nothing than our society seems to think is appropriate, most everyone can use some help with the daily question, “What’s for supper?”
This is especially true when we tire of our usual go-to meals.
Although I’ve technically been making this for lunch (or dinner as my Granny Tommie called it), and eggs are certainly not new, this preparation method is a change from my usual. And it gives me the option of a head start on a hurried supper.
The recipe is adapted from “Food52 Simply Genius: Recipes for Beginners, Busy Cooks & Curious People” by Kristen Miglore with a foreword by Amanda Hesser (Ten Speed Press, Sept. 27, $35).
Miglore credits the recipe to Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton of Canal House.
Admittedly, basting eggs with oil is not new, but it isn’t a method I usually employ. (My go-to method is to just cover my skillet for a minute or three to cook the top of a fried egg.)
The result using this method is eggs with frilly, crisp edges and firm-as-you-like whites and yolks. They’re not the prettiest fried eggs I’ve made, but they are among the tastiest. The entire process of cooking and basting the eggs took less time than toasting the bread I piled my eggs on. Seasoning the oil with smoked paprika also gave the eggs a twist of newness.
The recipe can be easily doubled. If you wish to make fewer eggs, don’t reduce the amount of oil as you’ll still need enough to baste the eggs.
I’ve used the leftover oil in a quick vinaigrette and as an instant “sauce” for pasta, allowing this recipe to do double duty on the busiest of days.
Pimenton Fried Eggs
¼ cup olive oil (or more as needed depending on the size of your skillet)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Bread, for serving
Fresh herbs, optional, for serving
Have two small bowls ready.
Heat the olive oil in a small or medium, heavy skillet — the skillet should be large enough to hold two eggs, but small enough the oil pools when you tilt the pan — over medium heat until quite warm. A small pinch of smoked paprika sprinkled into the oil should sizzle, but not burn. When the oil is ready, add the paprika and gently swirl the pan to distribute it evenly in the oil.
Crack an egg into each bowl, and then carefully pour the eggs into the skillet. The oil may splatter, if it splatters a lot, reduce the heat a bit. Fry the eggs, basting the tops with hot oil (tilt the skillet and collect the oil with a spoon), until the whites are firm and the yolks are cooked to your liking. Gently press the yolks and inner white with the back of your spoon to check for doneness. With a wide spatula, carefully remove the eggs from the hot oil, then repeat with the remaining eggs.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper. If serving the eggs with bread, spoon some of the oil over the eggs for sopping with the bread. If desired, add a small handful of fresh herbs such as chives or cilantro.
Makes 2 servings.