Dinner was spectacular, as it always is at my sister’s house – grilled steak, sausages, potato salad, green salad, corn on the cob, and chocolate cake with ice cream and berries. Luckily though, I can regress to lunch, which is something I’d kind of like to tell you about (and ask your opinion on) anyway.
A (it appears I know too many people whose names begin with A) turned her kids’ playhouse in the back yard into a chicken coop, and yesterday aquired 5 beautiful laying chickens. She did months of research – years, in fact – before going ahead and scratching “have a chicken coop” off her life’s to-do list. The playhouse made a perfect coop, and she has a large, high-fenced, corner lot backyard. Chickens take care of bugs, weeds and much of your kitchen compost, and provide an organic, free-range egg or two per day, per chicken. There is a bylaw in Calgary against owning livestock within city limits, and chickens fall into the livestock category. Before I go into any more detail, how would you feel if one of your neighbours got chickens? Or if it was allowed, as it is in Victoria, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Chicago (etc.), would you go ahead and get some yourself?
I was over when they arrived, and 3 eggs quickly appeared. Since the kids were out and she was sure they’d want to be around at the first sign of eggs, I brought home the first and cooked them for lunch. I wanted to do a little more than just poached eggs on toast, and have been meaning to try a version of eggs poached or baked in a chunky, tomato-ey ratatouille or Pipérade (a saucy combination of tomatoes and peppers from the Basque regions of France and Spain) since reading about it some 10 years ago. Even my neighbour, who – I’ve just made the connection – is French, poaches his eggs in stewed tomatoes or pasta sauce.
Now, I only call this Pipérade for lack of a better description, and with the addition of chorizo I doubt it would techinically count anyway; really I just sautéed a purple onion, a crumbled chorizo sausage, some red and yellow pepper (I keep bags of chopped peppers in the freezer for occasions such as these) and a few cloves of garlic in some olive oil, then added an overripe tomato and the last of some pasta sauce in the fridge, and a spoonful of tomato paste, and a pinch of Italian seasoning… really just make yourself a good, thick, chunky tomato sauce.
It should be thick enough that you can make little divets in the sauce and break an egg into each. Now you could turn the heat to medium-low, put a lid on it and let them cook, or slide the pan into a 400F oven for about 5 minutes to bake them. Either way, there is the option of sprinkling the eggs with a little grated cheddar or crumbled feta or goat cheese and putting them back over/under the heat until it melts. (Just don’t overcook the eggs, like I did.) If you want to do little individual baked eggs, divide the tomato mixture among ramekins and break an egg onto each; put them on a cookie sheet and slide into the oven. Serve on (or with) toast. I wished I had some olive rye from Rosso today.
So – any chicken thoughts?