best comfort food tomato pasta -how to make tomato confit and fry duck eggs


Author Notes

Here in the Hudson Valley, it has snowed and snowed and snowed for the past few weeks, coating every surface in a thick layer of white. To remind me of warmer days—and keep the chill away—I dreamt up this fantastic comfort food dish: pasta with duck eggs fried in tomato confit, until their edges become crispy. Custardy beyond belief, duck eggs are one of my favorite ingredients. If you can’t find them, however, use really good chicken eggs. Just make sure that they are eggs from free-roaming hens. Sourcing these will ensure yolks that are silky and rich. In this dish, lush sauce hugs the noodles, made by emulsifying confit oil with a little pasta water, not to mention that golden yolk. Red pepper flakes and garlic offset the subtly sweet tomatoes. Full disclosure, I make batches of roasted and canned tomatoes, as well as this wonderful confit from my cottage kitchen garden (and it freezes well). There are more regional growers producing greenhouse tomatoes now, so even though they aren’t currently in season, these varieties aren’t necessarily transported from across the country. When you too long for warmer days, keeping this in your back pocket works in a pinch. Any leftover confit oil can be used to cook grains, beans, or added to dressings or sauces. It is so good, you can use it in just about everything.
Melina Hammer

  • Prep time
    10 minutes
  • Cook time
    25 minutes
  • Serves
  • Tomato confit

  • 2 cups

    cherry, sungold, or small vine-ripened tomatoes

  • 3

    shallots, peeled, ends trimmed, and quartered lengthwise

  • 7 sprigs

    sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    black peppercorns

  • kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups

    extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Pasta

  • 4

    duck eggs

  • 10 ounces


  • 3

    cloves garlic, finely grated on a microplane

  • 1 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes, plus extra to garnish

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped parsley, to garnish

  • Flaky salt & freshly cracked pepper

  1. Arrange the tomatoes, shallots, and thyme in a small saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt and the peppercorns, and pour enough oil to cover.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a bare simmer, then lower heat to maintain it—there should be a bubble or two every couple seconds, showing that there’s activity without disturbing the contents.
  3. After 20 minutes, check for doneness. Use the back of a spoon to gently press against a tomato: It should easily give. If that isn’t the case, continue gently simmering for another 5 minutes or so or until ready.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and set aside. Tomato confit can be made up to a week in advance, stored in a squat jar, confit oil poured over to submerge the tomatoes and shallots and kept sealed in the refrigerator. Refrigerated confit can be reheated over medium-low heat when you plan to use it.
  5. Once the tomato confit is ready, work on the pasta: Crack each egg into a small dish.
  6. Set a pot of water over high heat to boil, then generously salt it. Cook the spaghetti until al dente according to package instructions.
  7. While pasta cooks, pour 2 tablespoons of confit oil into a mixing bowl and swirl it around to coat the sides. Use tongs to transfer cooked noodles to the bowl, toss to coat, and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  8. Add 3 tablespoons of the confit oil to a large enameled skillet, warming over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, then add the red pepper flakes and stir periodically until the garlic turns golden, about 3 minutes. Use a small spatula to strain the mixture and transfer it to the bowl of noodles, leaving the oil in the pan.
  9. Still over medium heat, gently tip each egg into the hot pan to fry. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more confit oil and baste the duck eggs around their edges as well as where the white meets the yolk. Use a spatula to rotate the eggs to get all edges crispy. Once the whites are fully cooked, 3 to 4 minutes in all, transfer the eggs to a plate.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the pasta mixture to the skillet, along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Drag around the noodles, combining the confit oil and pasta water, creating a sauce. Strain tomatoes with a large spoon, adding them to the pasta, then folding and dragging the mixture around the pan until incorporated. Nestle the eggs on top, scatter with additional red pepper flakes to taste, and a shower of parsley. Add flaky salt to taste and divide between four plates.

When she’s not writing, cooking, styling, and shooting her forthcoming cookbook – out Spring 2022 with Ten Speed Press – Melina makes food look its best for the New York Times, Eating Well, Edible, and other folks who are passionate about real food. She grows heirloom+native plants and forages wild foods at her Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. There, Melina prepares curated menus to guests seeking community, amidst the robust flavors of the seasons.


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