It seems as though every few months I develop a different preoccupation when it comes to cooking. Sometimes my focus is on a particular ingredient (as showcased during the great Red Peppercorn Experiment of 2008) and sometimes my favor falls towards perfecting a certain item (like pie crust, which I still think exists in absolutely perfect form only in passing dreams and ghostly sightings, much like perfectly side swept bangs or the Ivory-billed Woodpecker). In keeping with inadvertent tradition, this summer has proven to be all about pizza and what I can, as allowed by the other members of my household, put on it. The difference, however, between most of my other food experiments and my current pizza run, is that this time I think I have discovered a dish that is destined to becomes an actual, true favorite.
It may not sound incredibly intuitive to pair broccoli rabe with pizza, but, I assure you, the results are nothing short of addictive. Fresh mozzarella, in all its creamy rich glory, provides the perfect bed for a pile of sautéed until crisp-tender, slightly spicy broccoli rabe. Though the two elements pair wonderfully on a crisp, olive oil-rubbed crust, what really makes this pizza shine is the rather unexpected addition of a couple of eggs gently laid on top during the last few minutes of cooking time.
The scorching heat of an oven that is turned up as high as it can go in order to accommodate the demands of cooking a pizza seems to be the perfect environment for cooking soft eggs. When the pizza emerges from the oven, the eggs will appear a bit wobbly at first. Though I am sure you will initially be left thinking that something has gone terribly awry, fear not. Patience is the key to allowing the eggs to set up perfectly, and, I swear to you, they will do just that when left alone on top of the steaming hot pizza for two or three minutes after leaving the oven. And then, after your agonizing wait, you will be duly awarded. The soft eggs will break open as you cut your pizza, and each slice will be dotted with just a small taste of the lovely, silky smooth egg. With each bite you’re treated to a taste of faintly spicy and bitter broccoli rabe, salty, chewy cheese, thin, crisp crust, and lush, soft egg. I know it sounds like it wouldn’t work, and that it shouldn’t work, but it does—oh, how it does. An experiment gone terribly right, this is definitely something you should spend some time investigating—and enjoying.
Broccoli Rabe and Soft Baked Egg Pizza
Pizza dough for 1 pizza (this is my favorite pizza dough—the recipe makes enough for three thin crust pizzas)
8 ounces broccoli rabe, sliced into ¼ inch wide strips, about 3 inches long
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 or 3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Move an oven rack to second lowest level. Place a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone on the rack while the oven preheats. Line a rimless or overturned baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until it just begins to shimmer. Add garlic flakes and sauté for 5 seconds. Turn heat to medium low, add garlic, and sauté for 20 seconds while constantly stirring. Add broccoli rabe, turning to coat in the oil. Saute broccoli rabe, stirring frequently, until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Using your hands, stretch the pizza dough into a rough circle about 12 to 13 inches wide. Do not roll out your dough using a rolling pin, as the flattening nature of a rolling pin will force all the air out of your dough and make it tough. Place your shaped dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
Pinch off quarter-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella and dot the surface of the pizza dough with cheese until evenly covered. Arrange the broccoli rabe on top of the cheese.
Crack your eggs into a small bowl and set near the stove.
Being very cautious, slide the pizza—still on the parchment paper—onto the heated baking sheet or pizza stone. Bake the pizza for 6 minutes, then carefully slide out the rack upon which the pizza is sitting and pour the eggs over the surface of the partially baked pizza. Slide rack back into oven, and continue to bake pizza for another 6 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are no longer translucent and the yolks appear to have just set. (I like my pizza crust very dark, so I tend to add the eggs a little later and bake the pizza a little longer in order to achieve maximum crispness.)
Remove pizza from oven, and allow to sit for at least another 2 minutes, giving the eggs a bit of extra time to finish cooking from the residual heat of the hot pizza. Slice pizza into 6 or 8 slices and serve.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|