What could be as simple as a lonely egg? But, it isn’t quite so! The egg is as versatile, delicious and can be as visually exciting as any ingredient. Pull out your trusty copy of Larousse Gastronomique (the French go-to encyclopedia of all things food) and you will find close to 5- suggestions of what to do with that simple egg. Are you amazed? That’s nothing. The most popular cookbook in Italy for the last fifty years, The Silver Spoon, lists almost seventy interesting egg ideas.
Here are the basics. The French break the egg down into nine basic categories: en cocotte (cooked in individual dishes), boiled, shirred, fried, hard-boiled, omelets, poached, scrambled, and soft boiled. The Italians add medium cooked, crepes, and the frittata. Sounds like the shrimp quote from Forrest Gump, doesn’t it?
Here are a few examples, just to get your culinary juices going. What about mashed potato “nests” piped onto a platted, baked golden brown, then filled heavy cream fortified scrambled eggs? A frittata filled with eggplant, bell peppers, parmesan, butter, and fontina cheese? One last tease—a few French suggestions this time—scrambled eggs served with smoked salmon, chicken livers, or shrimp in a cream sauce. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with a simple boiled egg or a famous southern deviled egg either!
OK, enough of the over-the-top ideas. Here are a few simple ideas I think you will like. Just make sure you are using fresh eggs. The ones from the farmers’ market are best. Let me reiterate that point: an egg from a happy chicken clucking around a pleasant yard with no fear of heading to the fryer for Sunday lunch produces an egg that is far, far superior from those poor creatures that live their lives in cages and are a sad and unhappy lot. Do the best you can and pay any price to get the best eggs possible.
Frittata and Omelets
The basic difference between these two preparations is that the omelet is mostly cooked, then its filling is added in the center and the omelet is then folded closed. The filling of a frittata is mixed into the eggs and cooked as one.
Lightly beat 6-8 eggs, season with just a pinch of salt and 2-3 tablespoons of cream. Butter a nonstick pan, heat to high, pour in the eggs, stirring with a fork, drawing the eggs from the edge toward the center. Just as soon as the eggs are set, not too firm, slide off the pan onto a plate and fold over. Overcooking an omelet ruins it like nothing else can. The eggs should be firm, but moist.
When filling an omelet, follow the directions above, but 2 minutes before the eggs are set, add the filling that you have chosen. Try these combinations: ham, spinach, and a good melting cheese like a white cheddar; shrimp and green onions; browned pork sausage, diced tomato, and lettuce that has been steamed briefly. You should also try a combination of cheeses like parmesan, Emmenthal, mozzarella, and fontina.
When the Germans add a fried or poached egg to a schnitzel or other escalope, they call it Holstein. So, I see nothing wrong with the idea of adding an egg to the top of a burger (or steak for that matter) and giving it the same name. Perhaps other restaurants have taken on the idea, but where I see it more often is in one of the Bacchus restaurants.
Combine half and half ground pork and beef (total 1 pound), season with freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, soak 1 cup (dry) day-old bread crumbs in water or milk, squeeze out excess milk, then mix all the ingredients together. Form into patties and grill over an open fire until medium well done. Place between a bun, garnish with all the tomato and lettuce you like, and just at the end, add an over-easy fried egg.
Ham and Egg Sandwich
As far as I know, no one makes a better ham and egg sandwich than In and Out Breakfast in Biloxi. Chef and owner Paul Montalto makes a lot of magic happen in his kitchen, but for a delicious breakfast, this is tops:
2 eggs per sandwich
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream if you like
4-6 thin slices of ham
1 soft bun
Salt and pepper
Combine the eggs, cream, and seasoning. The trick to this super thick breakfast sandwich is to whisk the eggs until peaks form (use a hand whisk or an electric mixer). Follow the directions for the basic omelet above and just be sure to use high heat and get it done as quickly as possible. Slide the omelet and the ham (it should be warm) onto the bun and serve at once.