Sunday, August 19, 2012

Çılbır (Poached Eggs on Garlicky Yogurt)

Sometimes it takes a summer heat wave to remember how delicious the simplest things can be. A cold gin and tonic. Lying in the backyard looking up at the stars. A bowl of vanilla ice cream with fresh blackberries. Poached eggs and garlicky yogurt.

I know, I know. On the surface, a meal of eggs and yogurt sounds kind of basic, unexciting (if not downright unappleaing). But in truth, it's phenomenal. The yogurt is tangy and savory, a perfect pillow for a runny poached egg. Topped with a drizzle of red pepper-infused oil and scooped up with some crusty bread, it's pretty near perfect.

This classic Turkish combination takes many forms — sometimes there's dried mint or sage leaves, or melted butter substitutes for the olive oil. I'll scoop it up with some toasted flatbread, a baguette, or the random ends of Russian rye from the freezer. It's quick enough for a quick weeknight supper, or too-hot-to-cook summer afternoon. As with any pared-down recipe, it helps to start with quality ingredients. But with the right building blocks (flavorful chiles, farm-fresh eggs and good bread), and the right Turkish inspiration, simplicity can be oh so delicious.

Çılbır (Poached Eggs on Garlicky Yogurt)

adapted from several traditional recipes
serves 2

garlicky yogurt:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, pressed

seasoned oil:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon flavorful-but-not-hot red pepper (Aleppo or Marash are particularly nice), or a hefty pinch smoked paprika

4 eggs

crusty bread for eating

optional additions:
chopped fresh tomatoes
a handful of olives
steamed or sauteed greens

To make the yogurt sauce: In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, and salt to taste. Set aside.

To make the seasoned oil: Pour the olive oil and pepper in a saucepan, and gently heat over a medium-low flame until the oil just warms and takes on color from the pepper (you don't want to overheat and darken things). Turn off and let sit.

Poach the eggs — there are numerous tutorials on this, but I'm fond of slipping a cracked egg into a whirlpool of barely-simmering water with a splash of vinegar, and simmering until just barely set.

To assemble: Lay down a bed of the garlicky yogurt on a plate, and ladle two poached eggs on top. Add whatever additions you favor, then top with a sprinkling of salt and a good amount of the seasoned oil. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

1 comment:

  1. I love runny eggs in all forms. This sounds like a lovely twist -- and a perfect dinner for one while my husband's away!