The next time you find yourself pining to expand your weekly meal repertoire, consider making an egg-based dish the new star of your lineup. One of the most versatile, inexpensive and nutritious ingredients available, it’s no wonder the eggs are so popular in American cuisine.
Whether you’re short on time or on a budget—or perhaps both—eggs are a fantastic choice for taking center stage at any meal. Eggs are essential components in hundreds of recipes, but shine on their own without much help. Here are five suggestions for egg-centric dishes to whet your appetite.
Classic Fried Eggs
The classic fried egg tends to get the reputation of a simple kitchen staple that anyone should be able to handle—something akin to pouring cereal into a bowl and adding milk. However, this bad rap is somewhat undeserved and ubiquity doesn’t necessarily equal simplicity. In fact, many chefs must pass the test of frying an egg perfectly before landing a job.
But one of the troubles with frying an egg perfectly, as well as one of its charms, is how many ways there are of going about it. Though your own frying methods may vary with time and preference, here’s a starter to get your breakfast in business.
An essential piece of equipment for fried eggs is a good nonstick frying pan. Melt some butter into the pan and heat it over a medium flame for a moment before adding the egg. For perfect results, the egg should not sizzle at any point during cooking. The trick for a great end product is heating the egg slowly.
After cracking the egg into the pan, you’ll notice there are two sections of the egg white—an inner and outer ring. As the egg heats up, use a spatula to break the border between the inner and outer whites. Once the combined egg white has firmed enough for flipping, carefully flip the egg over and fry the top side for about 20 seconds—less or more according to personal taste—before serving with a bit of salt and pepper.
Perfect Scrambled Eggs
Another staple of breakfast nooks across the US, while you may think you’ve got a good handle on the best way to make scrambled eggs, a few select tips can help you take this mainstay up a notch. Again, begin with a good quality nonstick frying pan and enough butter to coat the bottom. Although many recipes specify special conditions—starting with room temperature eggs, stirring constantly—the most important step in creating delicious, fluffy eggs is whisking.
Using a whisk or fork, incorporate as much air into your eggs as possible by using a vertical circular motion that pulls the eggs up out of the bowl momentarily—the more air bubbles in your eggs, the fluffier they’ll be. Whisk for about two minutes and transfer to the medium hot pan, stirring occasionally while allowing larger curds to form. The eggs are ready to serve when there is no more liquid egg in the pan.
Whoever said eggs were just for breakfast? A type of savory omelet pioneered in Italy, frittatas are much more substantial than typical egg dishes you may be used to at the breakfast table. A cast-iron skillet is the best tool for a frittata.
Begin by coating the bottom with some butter over medium heat. Add 4 or 5 beaten eggs and filler ingredients. Popular fillers include sautéed onions, sweet peppers, ham and cheese. Cook the frittata without stirring or flipping and finish the top under a broiler. To serve, slice the frittata in pie-like wedges.
Representing the dessert category, custard is a classic crowd-pleasing way to show off your egg-handling kitchen know-how. To make four servings, begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees, boiling about 6 cups of water and scalding 2 cups of milk. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachments, mix 2 eggs and ¼ cup of sugar on the lowest setting. Still whisking, add the milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in quick dashes to avoid setting the eggs. Pour the mixture into four custard cups, set them into a deep baking dish and surround them with the boiled water. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set and chill overnight.
One of the most popular appetizers in American cuisines, deviled eggs are equally at home on the hors d'oeuvres platter or in the picnic basket. Here’s a quick, basic recipe for this classic egg snack. For a 24-serving batch, hard boil a dozen eggs, cool, peel, cut in half lengthwise and separate the whites from the yolks. Using a fork, mash the yolks and combine with ½ cup of mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons mustard, 1 teaspoon white vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the white halves and top with a dusting of paprika.
Nigel Ericsson is a freelance writer who writes about cooking and specific products such as the EZ Cracker .