Strike gold with this summertime snack inspired by the Hangtown Fry, a dish prized by the forty-niners (miners, not the footballers) and re-imagined by Carlo Espinas, executive chef at Comstock Saloon in San Francisco.
For the pickled eggs:
4 cups white wine vinegar
¼ cup salt
4 whole dried chili pods
1 tablespoon paprika
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon whole mustard seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 sprig of thyme
1 dozen boiled eggs
For the oyster dressing:
1 sprig of thyme
1 shallot, peeled
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup oysters, shucked or jarred
½–1 cup olive oil
To pickle the eggs, place all ingredients, except eggs, in a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then let the brine cool.
Place eggs in a jar and pour the cooled brine over the eggs until submerged. Store in the refrigerator for at least a day; the longer the eggs sit in the brine, the more pronounced the flavor will be.
To make the oyster dressing, combine the thyme and shallot with the vinegar in a small saucepan, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the vinegar mixture to a simmer. Poach the oysters in the liquid until slightly firm, about 2 minutes. Remove the oysters and let them cool, reserving the shallot and ¼ cup of poaching liquid. Purée the oysters and shallot in a blender, then add the reserved poaching liquid, to taste. With the blender going, add olive oil to emulsify.
To assemble, slice the eggs and tile them across slices of toasted rye, cut into crust-less squares. Lightly dress with the oyster dressing and garnish with bacon crumbles and tiny sprigs of chervil. Serves 4.
THE PERFECT PAIR
Jonny Raglin, bartender and co-owner of Comstock Saloon, loves to pour Château de Coulaine’s 2010 Bonnaventure Chinon for its ability to harmonize with the recipe’s earthy flavors. “The Chinon’s white-pepper aroma and bone-dry acidity are nice additions to the mix,” says Raglin, “but they don’t get in the way of what’s already a complex dish.”