I've been eating pretty well lately. More than pretty well, spectacularly even. You already know all about my delicious adventures in Los Angeles and, frankly, my kitchen's been quite good to me lately, too. It's almost too good to be true. From honey dates and kumquats to gai lan and braised fennel, I have been bandying about the superlatives with an uncharacteristically heavy hand. Which makes me a little nervous. Because what if you, my dear readers, start to question all this enthusiasm? Have I been waxing too rhapsodic lately? Am I still credible if I rave, yet again, about something that might be the most delicious thing I've ever tasted?
I guess I have to hope that you trust me. And tell you that if you don't listen to me on this one, you will seriously be missing out on a meal that had me practically laughing with glee as I ate it last night. Is that the corniest thing you've ever read? I swear it's true. It was that good. Unbelievably good.
I got the recipe from Sunday's New York Times Magazine, where Christine Muhlke reviewed Nancy Silverton's latest book, A Twist of the Wrist. I now covet this book with a burning lust. (Well, to be honest, I did before I tried the recipe, too. But now? My lust has reached alarming heights.) Because if this dish was so ridiculously good, who knows what else is hiding in there? I have to find out. I simply have to.
But while I'm off ghosting around the aisles of the bookstore, do me a favor and get yourselves to the kitchen, post-haste, to make this for dinner. Even you anchovy-haters! I promise up, down and side-to-side that you will love this, too. I know it. (Just make someone else cook it for you, so you don't get all squee-ed out by the hairy fish factor.)
You melt a bunch of anchovies into some olive oil (I left out the butter - it seemed like too much fat for me) with what seems like an inordinate amount of minced garlic. The key is to do this over low heat, so the garlic barely colors and the anchovies really disintegrate. One minute little fish fillets are fizzing about in your pan, the next minute they've just...melted into aromatic nothingness. You turn off the heat, add lemon zest, lemon juice, minced parsley and shredded radicchio and stir it around until the radicchio is slick with oil and everything is well-combined.
You then toss boiled noodles (I used regular egg noodles, in the spirit of Nancy's "convenience cooking") in the pan with the anchovied radicchio until the sauce is fragrant and the radicchio is wilted (extra pasta water ensures that nothing dries out). Each plate is topped with grated Parmigiano and a fried egg with a molten yolk. This means that when you use your fork to break the egg, the yolk oozes all over the pasta and binds it together with this luscious, golden, savory sauce. The salty anchovies, the sweet garlic, the acidic lemon, the fragrant peel, the bitter radicchio, and the rich egg all meld into a spectacular combination of flavors that you can't really identify when they're harmonizing together in your mouth.
It's quite remarkable. In fact, I'm really kind of in awe. How did Nancy figure this one out? This creation is proof (if the myriad restaurants and bakeries, previous books, and other related ventures weren't already) of serious, serious talent. Trust me when I say this is among the best things to ever come out of my kitchen. I'm laminating, Hall-of-Faming this one. Oh, yes. I think you will, too.
You won't be able to help yourself.
Egg Pappardelle With Bagna Cauda, Wilted Radicchio and an Olive-Oil-Fried Egg
For the pappardelle and bagna cauda:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
15 anchovy fillets
8 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
12 radicchio leaves, torn into small pieces
Grated zest and juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces egg pappardelle
For finishing the dish:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. To make the bagna cauda, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, anchovies and garlic and cook, breaking up the anchovies with a fork and stirring constantly, until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley, radicchio and lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Prepare the pasta by bringing a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add enough kosher salt until the water tastes salty and return to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
3. To finish the dish, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until the oil is almost smoking, about 2 minutes. Break 1 egg into a small bowl and pour into the skillet. When it just begins to set around the edges, break the second egg into the bowl and pour into the skillet. (By waiting a moment before adding the next egg, the eggs won’t stick together.) Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs. Cook until the edges are golden, the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.
4. Use tongs to lift the pasta out of the water and transfer it quickly, while it’s dripping with water, to the skillet with the bagna cauda. Place the skillet over high heat. Toss the pasta to combine the ingredients and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
5. Using tongs, divide the pasta among 4 plates, twisting it into mounds. Grate a generous layer of cheese over each. Place an egg over the cheese. Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and serve with more grated cheese and pepper.