Red Peppers and Eggs
This breakfast treat that has been filling stomachs in my family way before I was around. My mom told me that her dad, Chef Enrico, would make this for the pick-nick lunch they brought along to the beach. Ocean spray, sunshine, peppers and eggs – the perfect day by the ocean !
It is simple but has one secret that you have to get right to make your crew ask for seconds! When you saute the peppers and onions, do so on a medium flame and take your time. That long, slow process of sauteing really develops the flavors in the vegetable. It brings out the sweetness of the peppers and (especially) the onions by caramelizing their sugar. It also infuses the olive oil with the sugar and the wonderful flavors of both ingredients.
This recipe makes enough for 5 to 7 portions, depending on how many eggs you want to serve.
The eggs are large, the peppers are on the large side and the onions are medium size. An extra onion wandered into the shot, so just use one. I used a 10″ saute pan to prepare this.
When I was working in commercial kitchens, I had to move fast and did not want to waist time cleaning seeds out of my pepper strips. So, I developed a method of cutting the pepper to avoid this. Using a paring knife, slice the pepper in half on the long side, without cutting that big bunch of seeds. From the position shown, carefully cut around the seeds and remove them.
When I was really rushed I would grab the two halves and careful pull them away from the seeds. That takes a little practice to get it right.
Whether you use a knife or your hands, this is what you should be left with. Take the paring knife and cut the white ribs out too.
Now cut off the ends to clean up their appearance and slice into strips about three quarters of an inch wide.
Peel the onion, slice it in half and cut down the long side of it to make strips the same width as the bell pepper.
Put the saute pan on a medium flame and pour in 4 to 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Put the red peppers in and cook them for two minutes before adding the onions. The peppers take longer to get soft then the onions do.
Turn and mix often so they cook evenly. When sauteing, I usually mix the ingredients with just the action of pulling the pan. However, with this much oil in the pan it makes a mess, so you may want to use a pair of tongs.
When you add the onions, continue to stir the ingredients. They should be sauteed for another 10 to 12 minutes. As you cook them, adjust the heat down slightly. As these ingredient lose water they brown at a lower temperature. We don’t want any browning.
As you saute, look at the oil in the pan. Over time it takes on an orange hue. That is a good sign! The flavors are being developed and melded together in a way that makes this dish what it is.
When your peppers and onions look like this, pull them off the fire. Note how the pepper skins are wrinkled. They should be fairly soft to the touch, too.
Now, scramble up the eggs in a bowl. Season them with salt and pepper. BEFORE you add them in and cook them, you may want to slice up the Italian bread and set it aside for toasting when the eggs are done. About an inch in thickness is good.
At this point, put the saute pan on a medium fire and add the scrambled eggs. I let the eggs get a little firm around the edges before I start mixing them with a heat resistant rubber spatula. Always mix the eggs gently. Run the spat around the sides and turn the cooked eggs into the center of the pan. Then turn the cooked eggs on the bottom of the pan over to the top. Leave them fluffy! When the eggs are no longer runny you are done! They should look something like those below.
This is the time to toast the bread. A light toast is good: crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Now put a nice, big pile of egg and pepper lusciousness on the toast slices and eat immediately.
Now that you know the secret process of slow cooking in olive oil, there is a second dish you can make the same way. I will post that shortly.
Till then, happy cooking!