It was PB’s birthday earlier this week and my challenge was to cook up a meal that would wow him, and ultimately make him feel like the man of the hour. In my meal planning, I had remember once mentioning to him a dish that I had eaten for lunch at Aberdeen Street Social. It was a starter that stuck in my mind because it looked beautiful, tasted great, and was simple enough to be something that I could replicate at home.
Whilst the 3 elements of this dish are quite hands on and it’s a challenge for one person to complete and plate in a timely fashion so that it’s still hot when it gets to the table, it should get easier with practice! Preparation takes quite a bit of time as well (especially when you are prepping a main and a dessert at the same time), so when I started panicking that I wouldn’t have dinner on the table in time, my mum came in to help me and it certainly is easier with 4 hands!
Breaded Soft Boiled Egg with Iberico Ham and Smashed Peas
For the smashed peas:
300g green peas (petits pois or garden peas)
1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
275ml chicken stock
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
a dash of cream (40ml)
a pinch of salt
For the soft boiled egg:
4 good quality eggs + 1 egg
100g plain flour
200g bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and pepper
Garnish: 80g iberico ham
small, crisp salad leaves
♥ Prepare the smashed peas. Melt half of the butter until hot and foaming in a pot and soften the onions. Add the petits pois, sugar, stock and the rest of the butter. Make a drop lid from greaseproof paper – this will help preserve that nice bright green colour of the peas. Cut off a piece just bigger than the pot, fold it in quarters and use scissors to cut the edge in a circular shape. Cover the peas with the drop lid and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
♥ Remove the drop lid, pour out the chicken stock until there is almost none left, stir in the cream and smash the peas with a fork, then set aside. Season with salt if needed.
Tip: You can make the smashed peas in advance to save yourself from growing a third hand to complete all the elements of this dish at the same time. Reheat them just before serving, on the stove or in the microwave (shhhh, I won’t tell).
♥ Soft boil the eggs – bring the eggs to room temperature first, to avoid the eggshell cracking. Soft boil them (5 – 5 1/2 mins), drain and dunk them in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Peel the eggs.
Tip: If you have a stubborn eggshell that refuses to budge without threatening to take the yolk with it, I find it very helpful to peel a bit of shell off, slip a spoon under the shell and it pops right off!
♥ Quickly fry the iberico ham – the slices tend to be wide, so use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut them in half lengthways first, then fry them until crispy, like you would bacon. Drain on kitchen paper.
♥ If you don’t have a deep fryer, heat up the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Prepare 3 “dips”, a bowl with 1 beaten egg and salt, a plate with the flour and a generous ground of black pepper, and lastly the breadcrumbs. One by one, cover the soft-boiled egg in the flour mixture, then the egg and finally breadcrumbs. Using a slotted spoon, lower the egg into the oil and turn it so it is evenly fried all over. If the oil is hot enough, this should take literally no more that 15 seconds. Lift it out and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Tip: You don’t have to use a whole load of oil – use the smallest saucepan you have and pour in about an inch of oil, then lean the saucepan on it’s side when frying to get maximum coverage.
♥ Assemble the plate – distribute the peas,add a dollop of peas in the centre of each plate. Rest the egg op top, and decorate the surrounding with the iberico ham and small salad leaves.
Not bad, eh? For the main course, I made a slow-cooked lamb leg with cous cous and ratatouille, followed by Delice D’Eve (Eve’s Delight) – a favourite dessert of PB’s that his mum makes (talk about a challenge!), sort of like a peach melba but with apples – it’s a great recipe!