15 April 2012

Passover Cooking: Huevos Haminados

These might look like Easter eggs, but actually they're a traditional treat for Passover. We asked NYC caterer and culinary consultant Sierra Spingarn to share the family recipe for Huevos Haminados.

Since observant Jews refrain from doing work on the Sabbath, they employ techniques for slow-cooked foods that can be started Friday afternoon, and still be hot on their table. This year, as Passover begins on Saturday night, these techniques will come in especially handy.

For the Sephardic Jews of Spain, such foods are called haminado, based on the Ladino word hamin or oven. (Huevos, as in Spanish, is Ladino for eggs).

This is one of those recipes that varies from family to family, and whose measurements are never that precise. In Sierra's family, these eggs are cooked on the stovetop, and are as prized for their decorative value as their flavor.

Huevos Haminados
Makes 12 eggs
all measurements are approximate
  • Onion skins
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons of white vinegar (or 2 glugs, as Sierra says)
  • 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • pretty leaves, such as parsley or cilantro (optional)
  • clean pantyhose (optional)
You begin by asking your grocer for as many discarded brown onion skins they can give you. For a dozen eggs, we used about 8 cups, although it's recommended that you have twice that for the best color, particularly if you are slow-cooking them. If the onion skins are dirty, wash them before proceeding.

Fill a large soup pot with the skins, cover with water, and bring it to a boil. You should see the color of the water change to medium brown. Then add the peppercorns, salt, and white vinegar. Turn down the heat to a simmer.

Gently lower the eggs in the water, making sure they are completely covered, and add more water if necessary. Cover the surface of the water with the oil, and then cover the pot with a lid. Let simmer, covered, until the eggs are a rich mahogany color - about an hour.

Cooked this way, the eggs have just the slightest flavor of onions, and are similar to hardboiled eggs. If you want hot eggs on your Sabbath table, you can move the pot to a preheated slow oven (about 225F) after you add the eggs. The longer cooking time will increase the onion flavor, although it will still be delicate.

Before adding the eggs, you can press a decorative leaf such as parsley, cilantro, or even a leaf from your garden to the outside. Affix the leaf with pantyhose, tied in a tight knot. Just to be safe, we would refrain from cooking these pantyhose clad eggs in the oven.

The longer you cook the eggs, the more likely they are to crack. They'll have a spiderweb-like pattern on them, similar to Chinese tea eggs and more of the onion flavor.
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