Straining in its cheesecloth. Come see how to make it!
Make the ricotta
"The better the product you start with, the better result you'll get," says Kluger. He's fond of Battenkill Valley Creamery whole milk, which he uses along with cream as the base of his ricotta.
Place the milk, cream, and salt over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it reaches 170-180°F. Don't let it boil. (Kluger can "feel when it's hot, way hotter than you'd take a bath in," and notice when the foam around the edges suggests that it's getting close, but for the less experienced, a kitchen thermometer is probably the way to go.)
Add lemon juice
Once the milk has come up to temperature, add lemon juice, which separates the curds from the whey. "You can use any kind of strong acid: lemon, vinegar, whatever," says Kluger. "At the restaurant, we use citric acid, just because it's more precise; different lemons might be more or less acidic, but with citric acid you know what you're getting." Take the pot off the heat and let sit.
Prepare the strainer
The best method is a cheesecloth over a fine-mesh strainer, over a pot (which lets you catch the whey that drips through; or re-collect the milk and cream after a spilling disaster, which is pretty easy to do.)
After about 10 minutes, you should be able to see the top part of the milk and cream thicken up; these are the fine curds separating from the whey.
Once you really see those curds form, strain, catching the curds within the cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let sit and drain for desired length of time; as little as 10 minutes, for soft, spoonable ricotta; longer for something you'd use as a pizza topping, say, or otherwise want to be less wet.
The longer you let it sit, the more moisture will leak out.
In the meantime…
Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a saucepan; over medium-low heat cook garlic until it starts to soften, then add onion and cook until it does the same. "You should be able to take a little piece of onion, put it on your cutting board, and mash it on the back of your spoon," says Kluger; "that's how soft you want it."
Mash the tomatoes
Kluger uses San Marzano canned tomatoes from Italy or Muir Glenn canned tomatoes from California; "in the summer I'll make a super-quick, barely cooked tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes," he says, "but for this one I prefer canned." Rather than pull out a knife, he crushes whole tomatoes through the grate of a wire cooling rack, like this. "A potato masher also works well for this."
Once the tomatoes are added, the sauce cooks at a hard simmer for about 8 minutes, until it's reduced to about 3 cups. When you take take it off the heat, add several sprigs of basil to steep, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Spoon that tomato sauce into a saucepan, and add several dollops of ricotta; crack a few eggs right on top. Slide it into the oven until your eggs are set to the desired doneness. "If you're preparing this for guests," says Kluger, "you can make this whole thing, undercook the eggs just a bit, and then slide it back into the oven 5 minutes before you're ready to eat."
Kluger's fond of Sullivan Street Bakery bread, which he slices thick, drizzles in olive oil, and tosses on the grill. After it comes off, he rubs a garlic clove all over both sides. "A grill pan works for this, too; just get the heat high enough, since you want that char."
Scoop out into bowls, and add basil, grated Parmesan, and red chili flakes on top.