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Hens in the Garden
A Hearty Affair of Eggs and Rich Vegetable Stock!
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 Green or red bell pepper
2 Jalapenos, tai, habanero, or other hot pepper (optional)
1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes, drained with liquid reserved
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock. (Beef or chicken stock may also be used)
1 healthy bunch of turnip greens, kale, spinach, or other hearty greens - Sliced in 1/4 inch ribbons with a few reserved for garnish.
4 eggs
Fresh parmigiano regiano, pecorino romano, cheddar, or other sharp grated cheese.
The best virgin olive oil you can find.-I prefer Colavita. It is cold, first pressed virgin olive oil with a good body and strong flavor. If you prefer a lighter, less aromatic taste, try Filippo Berio. It is widely available and quite mild.
A good coarse grained salt-I use fine or medium sea salt (for the iodine content and source of other trace minerals not found in traditional table salt) but, if this is unavailable, table salt will do.
Pepper-It doesn't have to be fresh ground but a coarse grind is better for flavor and texture.
Fresh parsley for garnish


Begin by dicing the onions, and peppers.
Coat the bottom of the skillet with 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil and bring up to temperature over medium heat. You will want a slow browning at first, so heating the pan to sauté temperature (where a drop of water jumps or sizzles immediately) is unnecessary.
Add the onions, peppers, and bay leaves to the skillet, stirring occasionally during preparation to prevent over browning and sticking.
Mince the garlic and add to the skillet with the onions and peppers. To do this cleanly and effectively, simply use the flat of a wide-bladed knife and bring it down with the force of your fist over the clove of garlic. The shell will pull away easily and you will be able to begin the mincing.
Chop the tomatoes and add them to the sizzling pan to begin browning. Much depth of flavor is added to this dish by browning the tomatoes. Be careful, and reduce the heat as necessary so as not to burn the garlic. Burnt garlic is bitter.
Salt and pepper with a light hand. You can always add seasoning as you continue with preparation but it is near impossible to balance by back-adding ingredients.
As the tomatoes begin to brown and the vegetables become translucent, add the reserved liquid from the tomatoes and about 1/2 cup of water or stock.
Bring this to simmer and add the chopped greens.
Simmer uncovered to reduce some of the liquid while continuing to move the vegetables about the pan. This will encourage even cooking as well as a more rapid reduction.
Note: Your cooking time will depend on the greens you have chosen. Be careful not to overcook them and do not let the broth become too thick. You are looking for a medium consistency, liquid with some good body and dense flavor.
Test for salt and seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
As the greens begin to wilt and the broth begins to thicken, make four wells around the perimeter of the pan with the back of the spoon.
Drop 1 whole egg into each well, and top with a light layer of grated cheese.
Cover and simmer for 3-7 minutes, allowing the eggs to poach. The exact amount of cooking time will depend on how you prefer your eggs. Remember: The yolk, being somewhat liquid, is essential in the finish. Be careful that they do not become hard boiled.
Remove the bay leaves and serve Hens in the Garden, individually layered, over slices of good crusty bread. Or, for a unique taste treat, try it with Marcie McQueen's cornbread muffins. Garnish with additional black pepper, parsley, and reserved ribbons of the raw greens.
If this is a brunch or dinner, try it with a full-bodied red wine. One of my favorites is Corvo (a Sicilian table wine) but any full bodied vintage will do.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes Serves: 2-4
Recipe Origin: United States
Submitted by:
Haze McElhenny
United States
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