A Poached Egg with Basil Pesto and Sage Sausage

A poached egg, a piece of toast, and a strip of bacon walk into a bar and ask for a round of beers.
The bartender sizes them up and promptly responds, “Sorry, we don’t serve breakfast.”

I’ll be here all week.

First, I baked the bread. It took most of the afternoon and when I was done there was flour everywhere. But also the woodsy scent of herb-infused focaccia filled the apartment, and even though I had swallowed the buttery bodies of two ample crustaceans not an hour earlier, I managed to take a few first, warm bites. And it was worth the extra effort of digestion. The entire endeavor was an arduous process. I did a lot of unnecessary kneading, but I felt compelled to channel the ancestors and work the big dense dough ball with nothing but my limited biceps and faltering might. It was a long eight minutes, but ultimately satisfying, as all such battles usually are. You can totally use the KitchenAid hook attachment and next time I probably will. I made this from scratch. With my hands and heart. It was a mostly original idea, with some assistance from around the internet.

I followed along with Simply Recipes for the focaccia, which took time to wait for the rises, but was otherwise easy. One half of the dough is currently increasing in size and conquering the condiments in my refrigerator. It’s all very imperial and I don’t agree with the politics, but I remain an isolationist, for the moment. To construct the benedicto I will cut a square of bread and in the broiler melt two thin slices of fresh mozzarella. I also made basil pesto, which I have done before, though this time I instead used pine nuts. I cooked sweet Italian sausage, uncased and rolled into small balls, in a little fruity extra virgin olive oil infused with fresh sage. When the cheese on the bread became bubbly I pulled it from the oven and topped it with a layer of super green pesto, which melted a little over the sides of the focaccia. Lastly, a perfect poached egg is set on top, tentatively, boldly, gently.

I considered making the sausage a patty to submit under the pesto but over the cheese, but that seemed somehow inelegant. I also nearly omited the cheese, but that’s never the best course of action. I wanted this to be very simple and rustic, with an excess of herbs and layers of texture from soft salty chewy bread to silken runny egg yolk, punctuated with a blast of basil in between, beating summer’s drum at the earliest ending of winter. This dish was many hours in the making, a multi-step process, a labor of love, if you will. Won’t you? The result was sumptuous.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.

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