Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs

(1 serving)

"I like these crunchy eggs for dinner with a salad of bitter greens. At Zuni, they appear on the Sunday lunch menu accompanied by house-made sausage or bacon and grilled vegetables or roasted mushrooms. This is a very easy dish and fun to eat when you are alone, so I provide proportions for one person. For more people, make it in a larger pan, in batches of four to six eggs."

Wine: Cline Cellars Mourvedre, Ancient Vines, Contra Costa, 1999

-- Excerpted from

the Eggs chapter.

3 heaping tablespoons packed, fresh, soft bread crumbs made from slightly stale, crustless, chewy, white peasant-style bread (bread crumb technique follows)

Salt to taste

About 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

A few fresh thyme or marjoram leaves or coarsely chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

2 eggs

About 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar

Sprinkle the crumbs with salt to taste, then drizzle with enough of the oil to just oversaturate them.

Place the crumbs in a 6- to 8-inch French steel omelet pan or nonstick skillet and set over medium heat. (If you like your fried eggs over easy, reserve some of the oiled raw crumbs to sprinkle on the top of the eggs just before you flip them over.) Let the crumbs warm through, then swirl the pan as they begin drying out -- which will make a quiet static-like sound. Stir once or twice.

The moment you see the crumbs begin to color, quickly add the remaining oil, and the herbs if using, then crack the eggs directly onto the crumbs. Cook the eggs as you like.

Slide onto a warm plate, then add the vinegar to the hot pan. Swirl the pan once, then pour the drops of sizzling vinegar over the eggs.

Note: If you are preparing the eggs for more than a few people, it is a little easier to toast the seasoned, oiled crumbs in advance in a 425-degree oven instead of in the skillet. In that case, toast them to the color of weak tea. Then scatter them in the skillet, add the remaining olive oil. and proceed as described above.

Per serving: 407 calories, 13 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrates, 37 gm fat, 425 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 441 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Fresh Bread Crumbs

"By fresh bread crumbs I mean fluffy, soft crumbs made from chewy, peasant-style bread. You'll need to make them in the processor -- I've never seen this type of crumb marketed. Do not substitute fine, dry, toasted bread crumbs, whether store-bought or homemade. For the best and most reliable results, use day-old bread. It is less humid and tends to make lighter, looser crumbs than fresh. Occasionally, when some types of peasant bread are very fresh, they turn into heavy, gummy nibs rather than fluffy crumbs when you process them. There is no foolproof way to stale such bread artificially -- I've tried slicing it and leaving it in the refrigerator to dehydrate as well as slow-drying it in the oven at the lowest possible heat. In nearly every case, I got either gummy crumbs or sawdusty ones. The best solution is to keep a little stale bread around, or identify a type of peasant bread in your market that makes light crumbs even when it is fresh.

"To make fresh bread crumbs: Carve off all the crust. (Set aside to use for croutons.) Cut or tear the tender insides of the loaf into walnut-size wads and grind in a food processor. Don't grind too finely or evenly. Variation in the size of the crumbs makes them more fun to eat; every batch should have some fat "snowflakes" and some mustard-seed size crumbs. A cup of these tender crumbs will usually weigh about 2 ounces and shrink by about one-third when toasted. But the precise character of the bread you use and how fine you grind it can skew these numbers. If not using the crumbs immediately, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a few days. You can also double-bag them and freeze for a week or so."

-- Excerpted from Notes on

Frequently Used Ingredients

Chard & Onion Panade

With Fontina

(Makes 5 main-course servings or 6 to 8 side-dish servings)

"A panade, literally, a 'Big Bread Thing,' is a fluffy, gratineed casserole of stale bread and stewed onions, moistened with broth or water (made with water, it might be tagged acquacotta, an Italian relation). Enriched with cheese and layered with greens, this primitive gratin becomes an affordable luxury dish. We serve a generous scoop of panade by itself in lieu of soup, pasta, risotto or a smaller spoonful next to grilled or roasted birds or meat. In either case, scoop strategically when you serve, so everyone gets some of the craggy top. Whichever panade strategy you choose, don't worry if it looks as if you will have too much. What isn't consumed in second helpings has a future still: it is delicious pan-fried.

"You can assemble and start baking the panade itself hours in advance, and you can certainly prepare the chicken stock, onions and bread even earlier. (If you do, make sure to refrigerate the bread after you moisten it.) When possible, use sweet onions -- Granex, Vidalia or Maui -- whichever is available in your region. As suggested above, you can make the panade with part or all lightly salted water; the result will be lighter. In that case, brown the onions a little longer and consider adding extra garlic to boost the flavor.

"Use Fontina Val d'Aosta for this recipe, not an imitation. Swiss Gruyere is also a good choice."

Wine: Cotes du Ventoux, Val Muzols, Delas Freres, 2000

-- Excerpted from

the Starchy Dishes chapter.

11/2 pounds thickly sliced yellow onions, a sweet variety if possible (about 6 cups)

1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Salt to taste

1 pound green Swiss chard, thick ribs removed and leaves cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons

A little water as needed

10 ounces day-old chewy peasant- style bread, cut into rough 1-inch cubes (8 to 10 cups)

Up to 4 cups chicken stock

About 6 ounces fontina or Swiss Gruyere, coarsely grated (about 2 cups very loosely packed)

Preparing the onions, chard, and bread: Place the onions in a deep 4-quart saucepan and drizzle and toss with oil to coat, about 1/4 cup. Set over medium-high and, shimmying the pan occasionally, cook until the bottom layer of onions is slightly golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir and repeat. Once the second layer of onions has colored, reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Stew, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a pale amber color and tender but not mushy, another 20 minutes or so. If at any point the onions look as if they may dry out, cover them to trap some of the moisture in the pan. Taste for salt. You should get about 21/4 cups cooked onions.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (or as low as 250 degrees, if it suits your schedule to stretch the cooking time from about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes; in general, the longer and slower the bake, the more unctuous and mellow the results).

Wilt the prepared chard in batches: Place a few handfuls of leaves in a 3-quart saute pan or 10-to 12-inch skillet with a drizzle of oil, a sprinkling of water (if you've just washed the chard, it may have enough water still clinging to the leaves), and a few pinches of salt. Set the pan over medium heat until the water begins to steam, then reduce the heat and stir and fold the leaves until they are just wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. The leaves should be uniformly bright green, the white veins quite pliable (the veins will blacken later if they are not heated through). Taste. The chard may be slightly metallic tasting at this point, but make sure it's salted to your taste. Set aside.

Toss and massage the cubed bread with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a generous 1/4 cup of the stock and a few pinches of salt, to taste.

Building the panade: Choose a flameproof 2-quart souffle dish or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Assemble the panade in layers, starting with a generous smear of onions, followed by a loose mosiac of bread cubes, a second layer of onions, a wrinkled blanket of chard, and a handful of the cheese. Repeat, starting with bread, the onions and so on, continuing until the dish is brimming. Aim for 2 to 3 layers of each component, then make sure the top layer displays a little of everything. Don't try to make the layers flat and even; irregularity makes the final product more interesting and lovely. And don't worry if you need to pack the layers a bit. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil.

Bring the remaining 33/4 cups stock to a simmer and taste for salt. Add it slowly, in doses, around the edge of the dish. For a very juicy, soft panade, best served on its own, like a soup or risotto, add stock nearly to the rim; for a firm but still succulent panade, nice as a side dish, fill to about 1 inch below the rim. Once you've added the stock, wait a minute for it to be absorbed, then add more if necessary to return to the desired depth. The panade may rise a little as the bread swells.

Baking the panade: Set the panade over low heat and bring to a simmer; look for bubbles around the edges (heating it here saves at least 30 minutes of oven time; it also means every panade you bake starts at the same temperature, so you can better predict total cooking times).

Cover the top of the panade with parchment paper, then very loosely wrap the top and sides with foil, dull side out. Place a separate sheet of foil directly under the panade or on the rack below it, to catch the inevitable drips. Bake until the panade is piping hot and bubbly. It will rise a little, lifting the foil with it. The top should be pale golden in the center and slightly darker on the edges. This usually takes about 11/2 hours, but varies according to the shape and material of your baking dish, and your oven. (You can hold the panade for another hour or so; just reduce the temperature to 275 degrees until 20 minutes before serving.)

Browning and serving the panade: Uncover the panade, raise the temperature to 375 degrees, and leave until golden brown on top, 10 to 20 minutes. (If you aren't quite ready when your panade is, re-tent the surface with parchment and foil and reduce the heat to 275 degrees. You can hold it another half hour this way without it overbrowning or drying out.) Slide a knife down the side of the dish and check the consistency of the panade. Beneath the crust, it should be very satiny and it should ooze liquid as you press against it with the blade of the knife. If it seems dry, add a few tablespoons simmering chicken stock and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Present it full-blown, then allow it to settle for a minute before serving directly from the baking dish.

Per serving (based on 8): 375 calories, 13 gm protein, 32 gm carbohydrates, 23 gm fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 7 gm saturated fat, 606 mg sodium, 4 gm dietary fiber