In the excitement leading up to my birthday, I always forget about what happens next: THE COMEDOWN.
Far worse than the day after Christmas, birthday princess comedown is pretty horrific. Not only is there another whole year until my next birthday, but I’m also older, slightly puffier (due to excessive consumption of cake and champagne), and still not in possession of an assistant to help clean up the post-birthday mess in my apartment. #whitegirlproblems
When I stumbled into my living room yesterday morning, I was overwhelmed by a wave of sadness. Every surface was littered with cards and cake crumbs, and I had to weave through the slowly sinking maze of 100 brightly colored Happy Birthday balloons that my mother had delivered on Saturday. On my way back to bed with my coffee, I tripped on one of the strings, which happened to be attached to the balloon that plays a surprisingly loud rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The irony. It was almost too much for a dethroned birthday princess to bear.
As much as I wanted to curl up in the fetal position, eat leftover cake, and silently lip synch to Taylor Swift’s “22” until my roommate got home from work, I’m an adult, and I have a very busy and important job to do. So, I put on my onesie, popped all of the balloons (which was very loud and scary and made me feel like this), dust-busted the cake crumbs, and reminded myself that 27 is going to be my best year yet.
My awesome mom thoughtfully spoiled me with several crop tops and cookbooks (two of my favorite things) this year, both of which were my saving grace yesterday. In the hope of banishing the post-birthday blues, I decided to pore over my new books and whip up something epic for myself all of my wonderful virtual friends. Obviously, this would be done while wearing a crop top and pretending that it isn’t 29 degrees in late March.
I spent several hours flipping through Tyler Florence’s Fresh, Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, and the Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook. There were so many possibilities (and I will be making various recipes from each of these fabulous books in the coming weeks), but I instantly gravitated toward Le Pain Quotidien’s drool-worthy Pancetta Fried Rice with Wilted Greens.
I’ve mentioned my deep appreciation for PQ before, and this fried rice recipe embodies the accessible elegance that I love so much about their food. I made a few slight changes, namely substituting bacon for pancetta, upping the garlic, and adding some broccoli florets and shaved Brussels Sprouts into the mix, but the rustic essence of the dish remains the same. It’s one of those simple but incredibly flavorful comfort foods that’s guaranteed to be a serious crowd pleaser. Plus, the use of fiber-rich brown rice, plenty of greens, and a minimal amount of oil means that you can feel good about crushing this stuff in a crop top. Thank God.
I am also excited to inform you that Bacon Fried Rice with Broccoli and Wilted Greens is easily customizable, and it reheats like a dream. Substitute quinoa or farro for brown rice, use whatever greens you have on hand, and don’t be afraid to get some Sriracha or Parmesan cheese involved. If you’re a vegetarian (or just feeling particularly virtuous) go ahead and add some more greens and a little extra olive oil in place of the bacon. The rice is an excellent meal on its own, but it also makes a compliment-worthy side dish for almost any meat or fish, and it even tastes delicious cold, so feel free to take it to work as a sassy desk lunch.
For the record, this magical Bacon Fried Rice pulled me out of my post-birthday princess depression immediately. Needless to say, the force is strong in this one, friends. Get involved.
Blogger’s Side Note: A Boiled Egg Story
As you can see, each serving of this fried rice is topped with a medium boiled egg. The PQ recipe includes instructions for boiling eggs in the standard way: boil heavily salted water, add eggs, return water to a boil and cook for 5½ minutes before draining. This method is foolproof, yet after all my cookbook reading, it seemed far too mundane, and I felt compelled to experiment with Tyler Florence’s incredibly fancy “6 minute and 25 second egg.”
The cookbook picture of Tyler’s boiled egg is perfection. A single egg is cut in half, yielding an every so slightly runny yolk that drips delicately onto a pristine plate. The joy I felt looking at that photo almost brought tears to my eyes, despite the anchovy mayo it was served with (which is literally my worst nightmare). As you can imagine, I was very excited to recreate this gloriousness in my own kitchen, and I had high hopes for my success.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
According to Tyler’s instructions, you simply place the eggs in cold water, bring them to a boil over high heat, and cook them for precisely 6 minutes and 25 seconds from the moment the water starts boiling. As soon as the time is up, you plunge them into an ice bath, and voila! You have the perfect egg. It’s so simple.
Psych. There’s actually quite a bit of gray area in Mr. Florence’s recipe. First of all, when exactly should I consider the water “boiling”? Do I start counting when there’s one little bubble on the water’s surface, or do I wait for a rolling boil to start the timer? As I anxiously babysat my pot, I found myself cursing Tyler for this lack of clarity. I felt stressed.
Then came the second hurdle. How do I get all four eggs out of that pot and into the ice bath as soon as the alarm goes off??! There is not a tool large enough for that, Tyler!! I could only get two out at a time, so the second 2 eggs were more like 6 minute 30 second eggs. FML.
As if the uncertain cooking time and egg retrieval weren’t bad enough, Tyler forgot to remind me to salt the water, so peeling those eggs was absurdly challenging. Let’s be real, peeling eggs is bullshit to begin with, but it’s infinitely easier when the water is heavily salted. When I cut into my peeled eggs…HORROR OF HORRORS! They were hard-boiled! I don’t want to blame myself, so I’m going to blame Tyler. It’s safe to say, that I’m going to keep boiling my eggs the boring way as PQ suggested. You probably should too.
Bacon Fried Rice with Broccoli and Wilted Greens: (Serves 4)
1 cup short grain brown rice
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut into ½ inch lardons
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup Brussels sprouts, shaved or very thinly sliced
3 cups leafy greens (I recommend a combination of baby spinach and arugula, but you do you), coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
Fresh ground pepper
¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preparing your Bacon Fried Rice with Broccoli and Wilted Greens:
-Pour the rice into a small pot with 1¾ cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside until ready to use.
-Moving on to the eggs. Bring a medium pot with 6½ cups of water and 4 tablespoons of salt to a boil. (The salted water will make it easier to peel the eggs. Thank God.) When boiling, carefully add the eggs. Bring the water back to a boil and cook for 5½ minutes. Drain the eggs immediately and let them cool for about 5 minutes before gently removing their shells. Place the peeled eggs in a pot filled with hot water if you want to keep them warm.
-Now it’s time to finish up the rice. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok. When hot, add the bacon (or pancetta), red pepper flakes and garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes until the bacon is golden brown. (Please be careful not to burn the garlic people.)
- 1 cup short grain brown rice (uncooked)
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, cut into ½ inch lardons
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts, shaved or very thinly sliced
- 3 cups leafy greens (I recommend a combination of baby spinach and arugula, but you do you), coarsely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Pour the rice into a small pot with 1¾ cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside until ready to use.
- While the rice is cooking, slice the bacon and chop the broccoli, Brussels sprouts and greens. Briefly set aside.
- Moving on to the eggs. Bring a medium pot with 6½ cups of water and 4 tablespoons of salt to a boil. (The salted water will make it easier to peel the eggs. Thank God.) When boiling, carefully add the eggs. Bring the water back to a boil and cook for 5½ minutes. Drain the eggs immediately and let them cool for about 5 minutes before gently removing their shells. Place the peeled eggs in a pot filled with hot water if you want to keep them warm.
- Now it’s time to finish up the rice. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok. When hot, add the bacon (or pancetta), red pepper flakes and garlic. Sauté for about 4 minutes until the bacon is golden brown. (Please be careful not to burn the garlic people.)
- Add the greens to the pan and sauté for 1 minute until they are just wilted.
- Add the rice and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Drain the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. Divide the rice among 4 plates (or 2…) and top with an egg and Parmesan (if using). Serve warm.