Here’s a simple recipe that only requires a few skills and access to Copa (sometimes spelled Coppa), a dry-cured specially-trimmed collar butt. We have been making Copa for the last couple years, and find the most tender time of year to remove it from the aging room and promptly eat it is early Spring – or it could be that the necessary wait time for this delicacy makes it seem overwhelmingly delicious whenever we eat it, which in this case happens to be right now, aka early Spring – I’ll get back to you on that.
The eggs we are lucky enough to get here at the Smokehaus are courtesy of a very dear blacksmith friend (he made Eric’s corkscrew grill and helped construct the monolithic pizza oven) who raises a small flock of very happy chickens who, like us, subsist on a protein-rich diet which includes Smokehaus smoked salmon skins. I heartily recommend seeking out a similar situation, although it’s hard to imagine an equal to these eggs.
12 thin slices of Copa
6 eggs, preferably high quality
1/4 – 1/2 pound of Parmigiano, aged Gouda, or other hard cheese
Basil oil for garnish
Preheat your oven at 350 f.
Line a 6-cup muffin tin with two pieces of Copa in each cup (if you have a 12-cup tin, double the recipe). Bake the Copa for 10-15 minutes, or until Copa has started to crisp (but not overly brown). Remove from oven and let cool. Reduce the oven to 325.
Fine-grate the cheese. Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet just above medium. Once the skillet is hot, drop small (approximately 1 Tablespoon) piles of cheese about 2 inches apart. Let cook (this is scary – but just go with it) until evenly bubbly. Remove the cheese discs with a metal spatula and let rest on a cutting board. Continue until satisfied (you can keep extras in a sealed container for a day or two in the fridge).
Crack an egg into each Copa cup and bake in the oven for at least 10 minutes (but probably longer): until the whites are set but the yolks are soft – unless you prefer them otherwise.
When the eggs are as you like them, remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes.
Plate the eggs by popping them out of the muffin tin with a butter knife or other longish, flatfish implement, and place them on a plate. Adorn them with a cheese chip (tuile, frico, crisp – pick your urbane-etude). Give them a little nudge of basil oil (we made our own with fresh basil, salt, fresh lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil).
Seduce the object of your affection with your culinary cunning, or make a table full of guests wish it was always brunch time – even though it nearly always is.
We ate ours with Miller High Life: The Champagne of Beers.