It's November and pumpkin is in like NSYNC in the '90s.
So, we copped out and hopped on the pumpkin train along side Starbucks, McDonald's and every other food establishment in the continental United States. How could we not? It's an incredibly versatile fruit (yes, it's a fruit) with a plethora of ways to devour it, both sweet and savory. We themed our last Bangin' Brunch of 2014 to this famous gourd and its accomplices: apples, butternut squash, cranberries, and all things Fall.
For this recipe, we gave pumpkin a savory spin in a popular dish sweeping the nation's best cafes: breakfast grain bowls. Ours was inspired by a silly-delicious East Hollywood hole-in-the-wall cafe called Sqirl, known for their homemade jams, breads, and innovative grain bowls.
To our surprise, our fall-themed grain bowl was a hit. It's got the ideal ratio of salt/acid/fat/texture from its toppings: salty goat cheese, homemade pickled onions, and crispy bacon. And of course, the crowning jewel is a slow poached egg: an odd but fun way to cook an egg popularized by David Chang. There's nothing sexier than a warm egg yolk oozing all over the rest of your food. Slow poached eggs make this possible.
All of these ingredients can be made a day ahead and reheated.
This recipe will yield more onions than you'll need, but that's okay. They last for weeks in the refrigerator and are fantastic on anything from sandwiches to steak. Pickle them at least one day ahead, but if you're in a pinch 4 hours will do.
- 1 red onion
- 500 ml bottle of white balsamic vinegar
- 2-4 cloves of garlic (optional)
Slice the onion into thin semi-circles. Break apart, and gently cram into a medium mason or pickling jar. If you don't have one, use any glass container with a lid. Put any remaining onions in a ziplock and save for your next salad or sandwich.
If you're feeling zingy and want your onions to have a bite, throw in a few whole garlic cloves. Pour in the balsamic until all the onions are covered. If you run out of balsamic, top with water.
Screw on the lid. Wait a day.
You've got pickled onions.
- 12 oz thick sliced bacon
Here's a secret: if you want easy cleanup, cook your bacon in the oven. That's all you need to do for this step.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees, lay out the strips side-by-side on a large baking sheet or pyrex dish, and cook 'til their nearly burnt. You want this bacon to be really crispy.
Drain with paper towels and chop into a fine dice.
The Slow Poached Egg
Slow poaching eggs is simple. All it requires is a thermometer, a pot of water, and patience.
- As many eggs as you'd like, plus one as a sacrificial offering.
Place a metal steamer basket in the largest pot you own (you want something to prevent the eggs from touching the bottom. If you don't have a steamer basket, get creative). Fill with water about 3/4 of an inch to the top. Turn the burner on low. Using an instant read thermometer, bring the water between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add the eggs to the pot. Set a timer for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the temperature. If it goes above 145, add a few ice cubes. If it drops below, turn up the heat ever-so-slightly.
After 45 minutes, take our your sacrificial egg. Carefully crack it into a small shallow bowl. The white should be mostly translucent, but not entirely opaque (see photo below). If it looks a little raw, let the rest of the eggs bathe for 7 more minutes.
Use immediately, or store in the fridge for up to one day.
The Goat Cheese
- Goats milk or goat cheese (about 4 oz)
Go out to your pasture, choose the healthiest looking goat, bring her into the barn and get milking. Make goat cheese.
Alternatively, just buy crumbled goat cheese.
- 9 oz bag of farro
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15-oz can pumpkin purée
- fresh sage, finely chipped
- salt & pepper
If you've made risotto before, you'll own this step.
In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a simmer. Add pumpkin purée and stir until dissolved. Keep over low heat.
In a large heavy skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add farro and cook until lightly toasted.
Add about a cup of the veggie-pumpkin mixture to the farro and stir. Once it's absorbed, continue adding the broth cup at a time, until the farro is cooked al dente. It should take 30-40 minutes.
Stir in salt, pepper and sage for taste.
Grain Bowl: Assemble!
Eyeball about a cup and a half of risotto and dump into a serving bowl. Using your fingers or a spoon, create a small indentation in the center of the farro; this will hold the egg.
If the eggs are coming out of the fridge, run them under hot water for 5 minutes. Carefully crack them one at a time into a small bowl. Pour out and discard the loosest part of the white, then gently place the egg into its farro hole.
Place 1-2 tablespoons each of bacon, goat cheese, and pickled onions around the egg. Top the with grated pepper and a pinch of salt.
While devouring this dish, it's fun to poke at the yolk, allowing it to slowly ooze out all over the bowl. Then stir to combine. It won't look pretty anymore, but that's not the point.
Note that this recipe hasn't been tested-as-written. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.