when local really means local

Do you ever wonder how “local” and “natural” your locally grown food really is? Yesterday I attended a street event in my neighborhood called El Mercado. It was planned around the opening of a new neighborhood city park, and it consisted of local community groups, and a lot of local vendors, craftspeople, food artisans, and other creative folks. I was delighted to come across a booth promoting a new store in the neighborhood called Arroyo General, a boutique-ish general store no larger than a shoe repair shop. arroyo generalThey sell really cool stuff sourced from the local Northeast Los Angeles area, including locally-grown produce and eggs. I couldn’t get my wallet out fast enough when I saw that they had duck eggs from a small urban farm about two miles from my house. So I ceased the opportunity to enjoy some animal based nutrition the way nature intended. This surprise encounter with local duck eggs, combined with the rainy weather outside, led to a morning fire in the fireplace and this yummy, healthy brunch dish.

basted duck egg with savory tomato basil oatmeal

serves 4 brunch entrees
4 duck eggs
2 Tbsp. chopped leeks
2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, with all the juices (or canned diced tomatoes)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (or 1/4 cup grated parmesan for cheese lovers)
Olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Avocado slices for garnish

First prepare the oatmeal. Heat a little oil in a medium sized pot and cook the shallots and leeks just until tender, trying not to brown or burn them. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer until they start to make a sauce. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add the oatmeal, stir to incorporate, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until the oatmeal is cooked and starting to take on a thick, polenta-like consistency. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for another minute, then add the nutritional yeast (or cheese) and basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate, cover, and let stand while you prepare the eggs. Heat a little olive oil in a teflon coated sautee or egg pan. When the oil is hot, crack the eggs into the pan, but make sure there is enough room so they don’t run into each other. You may need to do one or two at a time in order to accomplish this. After the edges of the egg start to cook, add some salt and pepper for seasoning, and about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover. The egg will start to steam. After about a minute, remove the cover and baste some of the hot water on top of the egg yolk. Return the cover and continue steaming on low heat, until the egg reaches the desired doneness. Spoon some oatmeal onto a plate and press down to create a place for your egg to sit. Use a slotted spatula to place the egg on top of the oatmeal. Garnish with fresh avocado slices and fresh herbs. If you are a cheese eater, add some more parmesan on top. The magnificent rich flavor of the fresh duck egg yolk is heavenly with the oatmeal and avocado. Proving that rich food does not have to be unhealthy. Enjoy!

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