Thursday, January 7, 2010

Consider the...egg

Am I showing my age when by admitting that when I titled this post, the commercial jingle "the incredible, edible egg!" popped into my head? Hopefully not, but I suppose I can stop by Sephora for some anti-wrinkle cream on my way home.

But seriously, the egg is an amazing little vessel of gastronomical delights and under appreciated potential. The great Escoffier himself devoted an entire chapter of his definitive cookbook to the glorious egg. The other chapters were broad headings like "sauces," "meats," "soups," or "garnishes" (aka vegetables). I know this because my lovely little sister, Amanda, scoured New York for the original English translation of the great Frenchman's 1902 masterpiece, which was to become my Christmas present. It was incredibly thoughtful, and I kind of felt like a butthead for getting her a nice, but generic, J.Crew sweater.

But back to eggs. Eggs are the core of so many wonderful things: cookies and cakes, quiches and even pasta. Yep, that's right. True pasta is made one part egg, one part flour, no water at all. Enjoy such pasta at places like Po or Babbo, and you really will taste the difference.

Yet I think what makes the egg so great is that it is probably best when allowed to be the focal point of your meal. Fluffy scrambled eggs are hard to beat, (har!) and all you need is a little bit of milk, butter and a non-stick pan. A fried egg with some toast, bit of cheese and bacon is the breakfast of drunk champions, and a nice frittata or omelet can make up an entire meal. A good omelet with tomatoes, onions, red peppers, and mushrooms is a near religious experience for me. Crush a little black pepper on there and my day is only downhill from there.

Poach an egg, grill some bacon, and stir it all together with some pasta and olive oil and you have pasta cabonara. Easy and yet it will easily impress your dinner guests! I find that poaching the egg in your pasta water (after the pasta has been taken out of course) gives it a nicer consistency. To keep the egg from falling apart, I break it in a wide-lipped bowl and then quickly tip it in.

Hardboiled eggs are a great source of protein and other nutritious goodies for you athletes out there, especially those of you engaging in endurance sports. A friend of mine who is a die-hard cyclist and rides for hours says that a hardboiled egg, a banana, and a carb of your choice will give your body everything it needs for seven hours in the saddle.

Vronsky is crazy about eggs Benedict and deviled eggs. I myself am sort of skeeved out by hollandaise sauce, which is no doubt rooted in my extreme dislike of mayonnaise and all things "mayo-like" in texture. This includes ranch dressing and sour creme. However, I do enjoy deviled eggs, even though I know mayo is a part of the recipe (thankfully, not too large a part).

The Spotted Pig has incredible deviled eggs (along with everything else on their menu), and while it is extremely difficult to get a table, or even a seat at the bar, it is worth the extra effort to sample any of their amazing wares. Luckily, a die-hard fan and contributor to New York Magazine managed to recreate their deviled eggs at home. How she managed to smuggle a few out (tupperware?) is beyond me, but once she broke down the recipe, it seems fairly easy to manage with things I have in my own kitchen. Will keep you posted on the results!

Deviled Eggs a la Spotted Pig

12 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon mayonaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
Maldon brand sea salt (or just regular sea salt if you don't want to shell out for the top level)
Peperoncino chili flakes, pulsed in a spice grinder into approx. 1/16th inch pieces
3 tablespoons of very thinly slices chives (sharpen up that knife!)

Place eggs in a single layer in medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/1 quarts cold water. Place over high heat, bring to a light boil, shut off heat, and wait for at least ten minutes. Drain the eggs and peel under cool running water. With a thin, SHARP, knife, carefully slice eggs in half.

Place egg yolks in bowl of food processor. Add olive oil, mayo, mustard, and both vinegars and process until smooth puree forms, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer mixture to a pastry bag (aka, a plastic zip-lock bag with the corner cut off). Select the 12 best egg white halves (reserve the remaining egg whites for a salad or something), and pipe the mixture into them by starting outside the indentation, completely filling in the indent, overflowing to the other side, finishing with a curled "tail" at the end for show.

Sprinkle eggs with the sea salt, peperoncino chili flakes, and chives. Drizzle with some more olive oil and serve!


  1. Mmmmmm...... think I will head out and look for some deviled eggs right now. But where to go besides the Spotted Pig? Brooklyn Heights must offer them somewhere. Off I go to search for eggs!

    Thanks, as always, Gastro Jess, for the tip!

    An admirer

  2. Head to Foragers in Dumbo or the new Trader Joes over in Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill and pick up the supplies to make your own! I bet either store will have everything you need, and then you can enjoy the deliciousness of these eggs weekly, on the cheap!