Farmer's Market Share: Baked Eggs with Tomato and Prosciutto

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I first developed egg-brand loyalty while in college in Massachusetts. I religiously purchased eggs from a farm called the Country Hen -- in no small part because the cartons featured little chicken bios, which gave me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside, like I was checking in with friends down the street.

ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
In St. Louis, it took me a little while to find a producer we liked: Prairie Grass Farms, which has the most transcendent eggs I'd ever eaten. The yolks are orange, and the eggs have a chickeny quality that's hard to put your finger on but undeniably there. I was home. Plus, the farm's whole multi-animal model reminded me of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm, which was an automatic warm fuzzy interconnected-drum-circle-of-life kind of feeling.

So despite the cost -- the eggs are undeniably more expensive than most -- Prairie Grass eggs became a part of my shopping repertoire. There are some things that I'm willing to spend a little more on, and these are usually products that yield happier, healthier animals.

(To preempt any of the agribusiness trolls who might jump on this, I'll acknowledge that this is a choice I make, but that choice makes me happy. I don't eat a whole ton of animal products, so I feel like the extra expense isn't going to break me.)

There was a sad moment a couple of years ago when Prairie Grass lost a lot of its young chickens, which threatened to completely halt its egg production. Thankfully, the farm made it through that setback and still sends eggs to the city on a regular basis. If you can't find these particular eggs, I also really like River Hills Poultry Alliance eggs, which come from several different farms in Missouri. Like Prairie Grass, these farms feed their chickens vegetarian feed and let them run around and be chickens, which results in some tasty eggs.

Sometime in the past week I decided that I would snag some prosciutto from Volpi. Then I noticed that the last local tomatoes that I would ever find in 2009 were sitting in a bin, and some little earworm reminded me that I should definitely buy all of these things, because I saw a recipe in a blog that would work.

Thankfully, that earworm was right, and I was able to treat friends to perfect cold-weather fare. This recipe would also work beautifully with some spinach and a nice hard cheese like manchego or Heartland Methuseleh. It's even nice to serve to guests because everybody likes individual ramekins of things.

ALISSA NELSON
  • Alissa Nelson
Baked Eggs with Prosciutto

adapted from Mark Bittman
Olive oil
Enough eggs for one per ramekin
Tomato, sliced
Small slices of prosciutto
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 375. Pour a little bit of olive oil into each ramekin, enough to thinly coat the bottom. Place a small slice of prosciutto into the bottom of each ramekin, followed by a slice of tomato. Crack an egg into each.

2. Put the ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the white has solidified. Since the ramekin retains heat, the egg will continue cooking after you take it out of the oven, so don't wait until it is well done.

3. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and serve.

Alissa Nelson is a graduate student and compulsive buyer of cookbooks. She enjoys scouring seed catalogs and thrift stores alike. Every Wednesday she seeks the bounty of local farmers' markets -- and then cooks it.

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