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Fried Eggs with Garlicky Chard and Saffron-Red Pepper Hollandaise

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Serves 4

  • by Martha Holmberg from Modern Sauces

This riff on eggs Florentine (eggs Benedict but with spinach instead of Canadian bacon) is turbocharged with flavor. Peppadew peppers, which originated in South Africa, are sweet, tangy, and only modestly hot. They are pickled and sold in jars in the deli section of well-stocked grocery stores.

For the saffron–red pepper hollandaise
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. roasted red peppers
  • 2 Tbs. fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh orange juice, plus more if needed
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • Kosher salt
  • Large pinch of saffron threads (about 15 threads)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2  tsp. lightly packed finely grated orange zest
  • 1⁄8 tsp. hot-pepper sauce such as Sriracha
For the eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large bunch Rainbow or Bright Lights Swiss chard (12 oz.), leaves and stems separated and stems cut crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of Espelette pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced jarred roasted red pepper
  • 4 tsp. minced pickled Peppadew pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 pieces focaccia, toasted
Make the hollandaise

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Don’t stir as it melts. You want the milky solids to fall to the bottom and the butterfat to float to the top. Keep warm.

In a food processor, combine the red peppers and olive oil and process until a smooth puree forms. You want to emulsify the oil with the peppers; the mixture should look creamy and combined.

Pour water to a depth of 1 to 2 inches into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Rest a medium stainless-steel bowl in the pan over (not touching) the water. Put the orange juice, water, 1/4 tsp. salt, and saffron into the bowl and let sit over the heat for a few minutes so the saffron infuses the liquid. When you can smell the saffron, add the egg yolks and start whisking. As the bowl heats up, the yolks will begin to thicken. Whisk vigorously, scraping around the bowl with a heat-resistant rubber spatula from time to time so that bits of yolk don’t get stuck and overcook. Beat until thick and frothy but not quite fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. The whisk will start leaving a clear space on the bottom of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for another 30 seconds or so to stabilize the sauce and let the bowl cool down.

Continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in the warm melted butter, taking care not to add too much of the milky-watery layer from the bottom of the pan. As you pour and whisk, make sure the yolks are accepting the butter and the yolks and butter are emulsifying. If the sauce looks at all broken or “curdly,” stop adding butter and just whisk for a few seconds. Only resume adding butter once you’ve whisked the sauce into creaminess again.

Once all of the butter has been added, whisk in the pepper puree, the orange zest, and hot-pepper sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, hot-pepper sauce, and orange juice if needed. If possible, serve right away.

Fry the eggs and assemble the dish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard leaves (not the stems) and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse well with cold water, and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Chop coarsely and set aside.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and Espelette pepper and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooked chard leaves, roasted pepper, and Peppadew pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the flavors are blended and the chard is hot, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover to keep warm. Do not rinse the pan.

Break each egg into a small teacup. Return the frying pan to low heat and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Carefully slide the eggs from the teacups into the pan so they stay whole. Season them with salt, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are just set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place a piece of focaccia on each plate, divide the chard mixture evenly among the focaccia, top with an egg, and then spoon a generous blanket of the warm hollandaise over the top. Serve right away.

Photo: Ellen Silverman

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