Experience tells me that of all my favorite foods, eggs have had one of the longest and roughest rides on the good-for-you/bad-for-you roller coaster. Just in time for the recent/current shortages, eggs seem to be back on the good-for-you list, so I thought it a fun time to share some of my adventures with eggs. Nothing special here; just some ideas to maybe help get out of a rut, or inspire some creative thinking.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” But if you’re looking for deviled, sunny-side up, over easy, and hard- or soft-boiled, well that’s another story for another time.
Scrambled Omelet Poached Hollandaise TIPS
My own preference, especially when in a hurry, is for a creamy scramble, starting with the addition of a splash of half ‘n’ half to the eggs and some hefty whisking before scrambling. If you want to add something like diced bell peppers or onions, I’d suggest starting with some butter in the pan, and putting those in the pan first and letting them sweat and soften a bit to get some of the water out of them. Then add the egg mixture. Low-medium heat and attentive stirring will get you what you want. Oh, and if you like a melted cheese, like cheddar or gruyere, add that to the top of the warm eggs once on your plate. A dusting of Feta or Parmesan (as shown), also adds some zip. (back to Top)
Omelets (or omelettes) are generally one of two types – American or French. American omelets, mostly what you get at any reception or buffet with an omelet station, will have the additions folded into the eggs as they cook, and will usually have the cheese (if requested) placed on top before the omelet is folded over and plated. Admittedly, American omelets get the job done more quickly. French omelets, on the other hand, take some nursing, and, like so many French dishes, rely as much on the presentation as they do the taste. You can trust me, and Jacques Pépin, there’s really no other difference. I can tell you from experience that if you’re cooking on an electric or induction cooktop, French omelets are not the easiest – go American! (back to Top)
It seems there are just about as many techniques that guarantee a perfect poached egg as there are writers on the subject. Why should I be any different? I’ve tried egg poaching pans, egg poaching pods, a couple of other devices, and even sous vide, all guaranteeing the perfect end product. Then I went to Boot Camp at The Chopping Block in Chicago, and all that changed. Here’s how I do it now, and it’s not failed me.
Put your pan/pot of water on; add a couple of capfuls of white vinegar; bring the water to a boil, then cut the heat back to a simmer.
Crack each egg into a small glass bowl, leaving it there until you’re ready to poach it. (see TIPS, below)
Using a small spatula or slotted spoon, create a vortex in the simmering water; pour the egg from the glass bowl into the center of the vortex. The egg will most likely sink.
At this point you can time the process if you want (usually 2-1/2 – 3-1/2 minutes, depending on water temperature). However, what I learned in Boot Camp is that it much easier to just observe, and after a couple of minutes, lift the egg up so that it’s visible to check it. Your eye will tell you when the egg looks like you want a poached egg to look, with a firm white (with no clear patches showing), and a yolk that is visibly still liquid (tap it lightly with your finger – you’ll know when it’s where you want it),.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the egg out and place it where you want it. Done!!! Repeat for any other eggs you need, and then enjoy. If your pan of water is large enough, you can do more than one egg at a time, but I’d recommend a bit of one-at-a-time practice first. (back to Top)
For appearances sake, I strain my eggs so that the loose part of the white doesn’t stray all over the poaching pan. Use a strainer that’s smooth enough to maintain the integrity of the sac of white that surrounds the yolk. Here’s my strainer.
Poaching eggs for more than one? Need to prepare ahead of time? It is possible to make poached eggs ahead of time – 2-3 days, as a matter of fact. Here’s how (with a tip of the hat to Kenji Lopez-Alt, author of “The Food Lab”. Before you start poaching, prepare a large glass bowl with cool water and some ice cubes – an ice bath. As you take the poached eggs out of the simmering water, immediately place them in the ice bath. This will stop the cooking process, and the eggs will sink to the bottom, away from the air. Cover the bowl, then put the bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. To serve, take the eggs from the cold water and put them in warm, like max 140 degrees, water (hot tap water works well) and leave them for about 10-15 minutes. Place, drench with Hollandaise if you like, and take a bow! You’re a hero!!! (back to Top)
While most often associated with Eggs Benedict (poached egg on Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin, topped with Hollandaise and a sprinkling of chives), Hollandaise is great over steamed asparagus or broccoli, or as a sauce over a beautiful filet of beef.
The basics for Hollandaise are egg yolk, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper, and butter. I’ve toyed around with several recipes and methods, both hand and blender techniques, as well as the double-boiler method. The easiest and most rewarding for me is the One-Pot Hollandaise Sauce recipe I picked up during Boot Camp at The Chopping Block in Chicago. Its equipment requirements are easy – a saucier and a whisk (this one works very well) – and it’s easy!
INGREDIENTS (for about 1 cup)
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 stick butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces (those lines on the wrapper)
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place all of the ingredients in a slope-sided saucier. For the indicated quantity of ingredients, a 2-qt saucier is quite sufficient; use a 1-1/2 qt if you are halving the recipe for just one person.
Place the saucier over low heat (you want the temperature to be just slightly above the melting point of the butter) and start whisking. Whisking is key, and it’s what emulsifies the Hollandaise so that the water and butter, with the help of the egg yolk, mix and become smooth.
Continue whisking until the sauce begins to thicken – about 5 minutes. At this point the mixture will be steaming slightly, and your whisk will leave a trail exposing the bottom of the pan.
Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the cayenne, if using, and the salt and pepper.
Serve warm, and be sure there is enough bread to mop up any extra!
BONUS TIP! If you’d like a decidedly Southwestern take on Hollandaise, drop the cayenne, and add a slight pinch of Smoked Jalapeño Powder. Not only will you ratchet up your Hollandaise, you’ll be helping a fabulous cause. Better yet, if you’re close to a firehouse, try this Fire Salt. Keep water handy! (back to Top)
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