For centuries, nay, millennia, man has been eating eggs. For only decades have we studied the effects of eggs on our health and, yes, the powers that be keep changing their position on whether or not we should be eating them. We know they have a hefty amount of dietary cholesterol, with a single egg averaging in the neighborhood of 186 milligrams. The recommended daily intake used to be 300 milligrams in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (health.gov); the 2015-2020 guidelines no longer include that recommendation. It’s now more of a sliding scale with factors such as age, weight, build and how active a person is that determines just how many eggs one can consume.
In other words, today I am OK, but nine years ago I was screwed.
We have an egg-split household. I’m all about the over easy. Lucas has recently begun leaning my way with the over medium. Graham and Katie are locked in tight with scrambled. Baby Henry gets nibbles of whatever is available. I can get a little testy though when it comes to scrambling eggs, and I should publicly apologize to Katie and Graham for moaning and groaning when the request comes my way. Although it may be the easiest and quickest method for cooking eggs, I have my reasons for hating them.
First off, it’s a waste. There is no runny yolk to pierce with your fork before you pour hot sauce into it and coat your ham, bacon or sausage in its golden glory. Yolk-gilded meat is the breakfast of a king. Scrambled is the meal of the jester.
Secondly, to scramble it right, you must use butter. Lots of butter. This also amps up the cholesterol. I’ve no aversion to butter, but you can’t deny it has its drawbacks. Scrambled eggs aren’t right with olive oil or cooking spray in a stainless steel pan, and you know it. It has to be butter to fluff them properly.
Finally, the pan. Whether you use a nonstick pan or a cast-iron griddle, it’s done for the day. Even ceramic-coated pans (possibly the best for scrambling) are good for nothing until thoroughly cleaned. With fried eggs I can at least spatula them out and continue cooking the rest of my breakfast. If someone wants another helping of scrambled eggs, I guess we will ruin another pan and fill up the sink with dirty dishes.
No matter how you cook them, we have eggs almost daily during this chapter in our lives. I’m trying to tone it down a bit, but healthy or not, we eat them. You could argue that fresh eggs taste better, especially if they are free-range, zero-steroid and zero-antibiotic chicken eggs laid by hens that are raised on the Happy Farm with the occasional spa day complete with competitive salaries, benefits and three weeks of paid vacation per year. Organic. But stale eggs are easier to cook, with yolks that are less likely to break.
Fresh eggs sink and older eggs float. It’s true. As an egg ages, air seeps into the shell and causes a bubble, which in turn, causes it to float. This begins as the egg cools after it is laid. If it’s too bouyant, it may be rotten, though I’ve never met a rotten raw egg in all of my years.
The stale (or should I say, “less fresh”?) eggs cook easier for the unbroken yolk enthusiast. For that, I have rarely spent the extra money on the cage-free, organic, brown eggs in the fancy packaging. I’m not crazy about Styrofoam containers, but I prefer what’s inside. Do you know who likes the more expensive eggs in the clear, plastic containers? Scrambled people, that’s who.
So forget the scrambled versus over easy war. Let’s talk about poaching eggs for Eggs Sardou, an Antoine’s classic we don’t see much of in the Port City. Do it at home this weekend. The gist is poached eggs served over creamed or sautéed spinach with artichoke hearts and hollandaise sauce. It’s a favorite of mine that is oft forgotten. It’s OK to use jarred artichoke hearts or boil a whole artichoke and reserve the leaves for some kind of dip.
Cook the artichoke hearts in butter.
We need a couple of inches of water in a deep skillet. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to barely simmering. I break my eggs individually into a coffee cup and slide them into the water one at a time, with no broken yolk.
If the whites spread, use a spoon to fold them over the yolk. Allow them to poach about four minutes. You want the whites to set, but the yolks should be soft.
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons water
8 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of paprika
Salt to taste
Make a double boiler by placing a small metal bowl over a simmering pot of water. Whisk in egg yolks and water. Please be careful. Remove them from the heat occasionally if you think they are overcooking. You don’t want them to be SCRAMBLED! Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. Add the seasoning and adjust to taste. I sometimes prefer more than a pinch of paprika.
Put the spinach on top of the artichoke hearts, the poached egg over the spinach and the hollandaise over the egg. Serve with Crystal hot sauce. This is a brunch appetizer that will dazzle your family and guests.
Be sure to watch your weight and avoid other cholesterol-heavy foods. Work out, grow tall and eat your veggies.
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