Here at ViaMedina, we have the great fortune of having a wealth of collaborators with whom we have cooked, eaten, and worked over these past months. As a member of the core crew, Nikki has helped us about a million times with everything from Sagras to Thanksgiving dinners; we thought that now might be the best time to acknowledge how generally badass she happens to be. Nikki moved to Italy and went to work at her fiancee Tiziano's family plant nursery where, with her highly applicable background in fashion marketing, she started tending to the chickens that once belonged to Tiziano's grandmother.
We decided to find out from Nikki what chicken care was all about and do you know what? It's pretty challenging and one might say, even borders on being a fairly rubbish endeavour. The rubbishness is most acutely felt whence delivering the treatment for chicken mites, which tend to affect the legs of chickens and can be quite damaging to them.
Nikki's chicken treatment involves cleaning their feet first in soap, then olive oil; after this the feet need to be slathered in Vaseline to smother any mites that might remain. This of course means catching the fifty or so chickens that are on the farm and holding them steady enough to get their feet washed and treated. This is a challenge.
Usually Nikki does the treatment by herself, which is, on the scale of difficult things, somewhere close to taking a bullet out of your own thigh. Catching a bunch of birds who very much do not want to be caught and then washing their feet, and then holding them for long enough to cover them in olive oil and Vaseline is much easier said than done, and its not even that easily said.
Difficult as it is, she does it and that's pretty awesome. We've also learned a few other important lessons about chickens from Nikki, listicled for your reading pleasure:
1. Chickens and cats can be pals.
2. You can hold a chicken and make it go catatonic.
3. Chickens make pretty good pets, and they're pretty hearty survivors.
4. Chicks are just plain adorable.
5. A hen's first egg is really tiny.
6. Fresh eggs are very, very delicious.
With this last fact in mind, we set about adapting a traditional recipe from the area, the egg gnudo. Contrary to the uova in camicha, or poached egg (or egg in a shirt), the gnudo is only the yolk (nude) which is then rolled in a light layer of semolina, left to firm and then gently cooked in water. The results are somewhat similar except exponentially more impressive to your friends.
It's a very simple way to do the egg a bit differently. Start with a clean, somewhat deep bowl but one with a level surface. Pour a generous amount of semolina into the bowl (again spread evenly) and then create indentations for the yolks (this will help quite a lot). Once you've separated the yolks, gently place them into the indentations and then lightly toss them so that the entire yolk is covered in semolina.
Give yourself about 6-8 hours for the semolina to firm around the yolk, and then bring your water to the boil. You'll only want to have the gnudo in water for about 40 seconds, so do make sure that you've got a generous boil or else things might get a little gunky. That's best left to the Vaseline treatments.
It's a really simple and delicious way to eat eggs, and the fresher the better. We cooked one up and served it over some local Ferlenghi mushrooms with just a bit of pepperoncini and parsley; if you've got truffles handy this is a technique you will want to remember.
And don't forget, it's all about the gooey center.
So for all of the eggs, the lessons, and the laughs we salute you Nikki and we think you rule. Happy birthday!