Two Questions, Many Answers

Part, The Second


Welcome, Gentle Reader.

This week another of my chef role models answers two simple pandemic-related questions.

Meet Chef Joanne Weir.

It all started at the turn of the last century at a place called Pilgrim’s Pantry. The Pantry was a restaurant in Boston run by a woman who was the first of generations of culinary professionals. The current standard-bearer is Weir, the great-granddaughter of that original Boston chef, who runs Copita, in San Francisco.

Chef is only one of her many facets.

She’s a restaurateur; her eatery Copita has been lauded as the best and most popular Mexican restaurant in the San Francisco Bay area. She’s written 20 cookbooks; her first, From Tapas To Meze (1994) was named as one Julia Child’s favorites out of the thousands of cookbooks released that year.

She’s a teacher, a travel guide, and a television host — heading six PBS cooking series. Her current is “Plates and Places,” a celebration of international travel and flavors.

And Chef Joanne’s kind, generous, and accommodating. When I asked her to participate in this odd pandemic questionnaire, she didn’t hesitate. Here are her answers, and one of her very favorite recipes.

Thanks for your time.

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What’s your favorite pantry meal?

My absolute favorite is Eggs in Purgatory. We always have eggs and a can of tomatoes. This is the perfect pantry meal. And you can serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

What’s your best food-related activity suggestion for staving off familial boredom and the resulting mayhem?

I have been watching and cooking on Instagram Live and Facebook Live. It’s been really fun, rewarding, and the best part, a fantastic way to connect with and engage with people. Being an extrovert, I miss being with people and the energy I get. All you need is a smartphone if you only want to watch or a smartphone and a tripod to record. It’s so easy!

Eggs In Purgatory Amatriciana

This recipe can be made in one cast iron pan or two small individual-serve cast iron pans. Pancetta or guanciale may be substituted for the bacon.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ounces bacon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 small red onion, minced

Pinch of crushed red pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 1/2 cups canned Italian Mutti Polpa tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano

Toasted bread or focaccia

Preheat an oven to 400F.

Warm the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon, cook, stirring occasionally, until very light golden, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and crushed red pepper and cook until the onions are soft, 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Check the thickness by pulling a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan and if it stays separated, it’s done. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer sauce to an ovenproof baking dish. Make 4 indentations in the sauce. Break the eggs, one by one into a small bowl, and with the spoon, add one egg into each indentation. Place on the top shelf of the oven and cook until the white of the eggs are firm but the yolks are still runny, about 7 to 10 minutes or until desired doneness. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the top with Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately with toasted bread or focaccia.

Serves 2.