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Monday, March 23, 2009

In Praise of Eggs

When I found out that my CSA provider, Wholearth, had farm fresh eggs available, I immediately ordered two dozen Jersey Giant eggs. Oh eggs... one of the reasons why I could never become a vegetarian (as noble as it is....) Perhaps I could give up eating chicken or fish under the threat of death... but a life without eggs? That would be unfathomable. Eggs can do so many things and I have always loved their versatility (think scrambled, over easy, sunny side up, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, coddled, poached….) and their flavour.

Of course, you can get eggs from ducks, quails, ostriches (!) among others, but the eggs I am referring to come from that ubiquitous farm yard animal, the humble chicken. These little ova are high in protein, minerals and vitamins and low in saturated fats.

There was a phase, I think, in the nineties where people stopped eating eggs because of high levels of cholesterol and then started eating them again when it was found that it was “good” cholesterol versus “bad” cholesterol. Then Omega-3 eggs came out & those eggs tasted tasted oddly fishy. (They have corrected this now!) Well, like gladiator shoes, eggs are back.

In our house, eggs never left the kitchen. (We never even dabbled in those cartons of egg substitute products. Not saying they are not good, but compared to the real thing? There are few simple pleasures as cracking an egg onto a hot sizzling skillet.) I see them as a fundamental part of how I cook... Just think, how would I get my meatballs to stick together? And how would I ever make a smooth velvety custard again? Or even eggs as a dish unto itself? Deviled eggs, anyone?

I know everyone has a way of making scrambled eggs and to be honest, this is a dish I prefer to eat at home. In fact, they have been cooked to my exact liking only once and that was in a hotel in Kathmandu. But that seems like a long way to go for such an easy dish.

Here is my complaint with most scrambled eggs: almost always overdone thus producing a rubbery and dry curd. If you develop one kitchen skill this year, please let it be how to make a proper scrambled egg with pale yellow, moist and glossy curds. If you do this, I will be right over to breakfast and you will be loved and exalted by your friends and family for your culinary mastery.

Admittedly, the recipe below is a bit fancy. Yes, it's Gordon Ramsay's recipe. They are out of this world, but no, you don’t always have to make eggs this way. Consider this a special occasion scrambled egg. This is the dish you pull out if you are trying to warm your way into someone’s heart.

If you don’t have crème fraiche, leave it out or try a tablespoon of sour cream. (It won't taste the same, but is still very nice.) However, the principles of making good scrambled eggs stand regardless: take your time, do not use a high heat (regulate by taking it off the burner if you have to), and stop cooking before your eggs are fully cooked. The residual heat will continue to cook the eggs even after you have removed it from the burner (this is called cross-over cooking time) and scrambled eggs should be soft, pillowy and should easily yield under your fork.

Gordon Ramsay’s Scrambled Eggs

Admittedly, I have made eggs in a more conventional and straight-forward manner, but having made these eggs several times now, it is worth the extra effort if you have the time to make it this way. The result is a very tender and glossy curd and is an excellent way to begin a morning.

6 eggs
3 tbsp butter, cut into chunks
1 tbsp crème fraiche
black pepper

snipped chives & sea salt for garnish

1. Crack the eggs into a small saucepan. Add butter pieces and heat slowly under medium-low heat. Stir continuously with a spatula until eggs are fully incorporated and butter begins to melt.
2. Remove off heat for a moment and continue to stir, gently turning and flipping over the curds. Return to heat again turning and flipping the curds. (It is important not to rush this step, the eggs are cooking slowly through this process. Turning them over ensures that there are no hot spots and the result is evenly cooked, glossy eggs.) This process should take about 5-7 minutes.
3. Once eggs are no longer runny, but not dry (glossy but distinct mounds of egg are visible), turn off heat. And fold in crème fraiche and chives.
4. Spoon onto toasted wholegrain bread and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.
5. Serve immediately.


Christina Kim said...

I agree, eggs are versatile and I wouldn't be able to eliminate them from my diet. Those scrambled eggs look great!

Unknown said...

heres the video...makes it a bit more comfortable to do when you see that its not as hard as it sounds!


Domestic Diva said...

These look gorgeous :) I was wondering what temperature/heat level you start the pan at and if you used a specific pan surface (non stick/cast iron etc).
Thanks so much for posting this!

jOoLz said...

i scramble eggs in a double boiler. takes about 10 minutes usually. they come out looking about the same as those in your pic. i normally use a tablespoon or 2 of cream or half & half, but i will definitely give the creme fraiche a try. :)

Anonymous said...

I recently bought a cookbook on Eggs (Michel Roux). Never imagined that someone can write so many varied recipes on eggs but the book is wonderful!

Hungry Gal said...

@ Christina
Thanks for dropping by... I always enjoy your posts.

@ Brendan
Thanks for the link... I hesitated to put it up because I don't want to get into the business of maintaining them. But you're right... it's absolutely easy esp. when you see GR do it.

@ Domestic Diva
I have a gas stove and for these eggs, I start with a med-low heat (about a 3-4 on the dial...)If I feel confident and want it to cook it a little faster, I bring it up to a 5 but it comes off the stove at more frequent intervals. The first time I made these eggs I was unsure and it was definitely slow going. But once you've made them a couple of times... you definitely feel more confident to crank the heat abit. I don't use non-stick pans but use the all-clad 1 qt sauce pan - it's perfect for 6 - 10 eggs.. With the butter and constantly stirring and flipping, there isn't alot of sticking. I think a cast iron would be too heavy (for me at least) to manoeuver on and off the stove.

@ Jools
A double boiler! What a great idea! I don't have one yet.... but that would ensure a gentle heat.
As much as I love cream, I think the creme fraiche at the end is magnificent. It's more viscous than cream and it lends a creaminess and body to the eggs and it's just magical. (I am a big fan of CF... can you tell?)

Hungry Gal said...

@ V

Michel Roux is a fantastic chef. (he has one for Marathon runners, too) A whole cookbook on eggs, I can believe it. Eggs are so versatile. You'll have to tell me what your favourite recipe from that cookbook is...

vanillasugarblog said...

I have made eggs this way and it had to be some of the best scrambled eggs I've ever tasted. It would be hard for me to go 3 days without my eggs.

alice said...

Thanks for the recipe.

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