This fabulous dish is quick, easy, soooo delicious, and perfect for breakfast or a stylish brunch. It is featured in my third Antonio Cortese Mystery novel, Death in Abundance, where it is prepared by Antonio’s Zia (aunt) Chiara on a lovely morning near Montepulciano. You can either take a loaf of ciabatta bread and cut it into servable size pieces or buy sandwich size ciabatta rolls which is what I did.
The Tuscan salsa is simple. It contains cooked pancetta (or you can sub bacon or prosciutto), tomatoes, shallots, parsley, a splash of good extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. You first want to cook, drain, and cool the pancetta before mixing it all together.
The salsa is beautiful and flavorful. Make extra if you want and serve it atop eggs, fish or meats.
To toast the ciabatta, I first brushed them with olive oil (or feel free to use butter) and toasted them under the broiler.
I suggest before poaching the eggs that you crack them into a small bowl. It does three things: you can check for shells, make sure the yolk remains whole, and it allows you to slide them gently into the simmering water.
The next step is to poach the eggs. I do not consider myself an expert on this. If you find it intimidating, there are plenty of tips to be found online if you look. A couple of tips are as follows: add a splash of vinegar to the water (such as white wine vinegar, or apple cider). This will help the egg whites to hold their shape. Then, once you get the water boiling, lower your heat to a simmer. Cook for three to five minutes depending on how runny you want your yolks.
All right, you’re almost ready to eat. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, allowing the excess water to drain off. If you want, you can pat the eggs gently with a cloth or paper towel to get them drier. I didn’t bother.
Place the eggs atop the ciabatta rolls and top with the Tuscan salsa. If you desire, you can top it off with some Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano. I would do it with a vegetable peeler for the most beautiful presentation. I forgot to do this before taking my photos. As you can see, it’s quite beautiful without it!
- Italian Salsa (enough for 4 servings):
- 2 ounces pancetta–chopped
- two Roma tomatoes-diced small
- one small shallot–finely minced
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley–chopped
- a splash of Extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Other Ingredients:
- 2 eggs per person
- two halves of a ciabatta roll per person– sliced and served open-faced
- olive oil or melted butter (to brush on ciabatta)
- Pecorino Romano–shaved with a vegetable peeler (optional)
You can buy pancetta by the slice at most deli counters, or you can buy it already diced at Trader Joe’s. Feel free to substitute bacon or prosciutto.
I realized after my photographs that I forgot to add the Pecorino Romano which is optional. If you add it, I recommend shaving it with a vegetable peeler makes a gorgeous presentation.
- Chop your pancetta (or bacon or proscitto–see Frankie’s Tips below) and brown in a skillet. Drain on a paper towel and set aside to cool.
- Prepare Italian Salsa. Set aside.
- Pre-heat broiler. Brush cut side of ciabatta bread with olive oil or melted butter.
- Choose a skillet with a lid for poaching. Your best bet is to go with a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet. Fill the skillet with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil.
- While water is heating, toast your ciabatta under the broiler. Set aside.
- Add a little bit of vinegar to the water to help the whites set quickly. Apple cider, or white wine vinegar are good choices because they won’t color the eggs.
- Crack the eggs into a ramekin or small glass bowl. You only want to use it if the yolk is not broken.
- Reduce water to a simmer and slide the eggs gently into the water. Cook about 3 minutes for a runny yolk, or up to 5 minutes for a firm yolk.
- Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Gently dry tops with a paper or cloth towel. Place atop toasted ciabatta. Garnish with Italian Salsa, and shaved Pecorino cheese if you so desire.
Now it’s time to be thankful and enjoy this flavorful work of art! Buon appetito!