On Thanksgiving Day 2011, Floyd Cardoz had a hankering for eggs. Keen to make a substantial breakfast before the day's feast, he combined available ingredients on hand: grits, crab, bacon, leeks, fresh ginger and a smoky chipotle chile. Because the oven was already on, he topped each portion of the imaginatively flavored grits with an egg and popped them in the oven. The superb coddled eggs and grits are now a fixture on Cardoz's menu at the newly opened North End Grill in New York City. Talk about a happy kitchen experiment.
Coddled Egg with Crab, Bacon and Leeks
Recipe adapted from Floyd Cardoz, North End Grill, New York City
Yield: Serves 4
Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
1⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth, divided
⅓ cup corn grits
4 bacon strips, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup peeled and finely chopped celery root
One 1-inch piece of Pasilla de Oaxaca or dried chipotle chile
1-inch fresh ginger, scraped and finely chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts only--cleaned, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
One thyme sprig
One small rosemary sprig
½ cup diced canned tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
½ cup lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
4 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Make the grits: In a small saucepan set over high heat, bring 1⅓ cup of the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the grits, reduce the heat to low and cook until thick, about 10 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and set aside.
2. In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside. Pour the bacon fat into a liquid measuring cup and add enough olive oil to measure ¼ cup total.
3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the bacon fat-olive oil mixture with the garlic and cook until the garlic is pale gold, about 4 minutes. Stir in the celery root, chile and ginger and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the leeks and season with salt. Cook until the leeks soften, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the thyme, rosemary, reserved bacon and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until ¾ of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the reserved grits and remaining 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and gently fold in the crabmeat and tarragon. Remove and discard the chile and herb sprigs.
5. Place four 8-ounce ramekins or oven-safe crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the crab and grits mixture evenly among the baking dishes, filling them ⅔ full. Use the back of a spoon to create a well in the center of each portion and carefully crack an egg into the well. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the egg whites are set, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.