Eggs are culinary staple across the world. They are chock full of protein and can be prepared in a number of ways that go well beyond the hard boiled or the scramble
What I consider the three most essential egg dishes are; the frittata, the omelet, and sunny side up. If you can do these three, you can do scrambled, or branch out to quiche, or poached. But these are what I consider the basics to build from.
The frittata comes from Italy, and is super easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees Celcius. MAKE SURE YOU’VE DONE ALL YOUR PREP WORK BEFORE YOU PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR SKILLET. This means chop up all your vegetables into a relatively fine chop. If you buy chopped frozen bell peppers, just make sure they are defrosted and drained (it’s a total time and money saver to buy some veggies frozen). Onions should be chopped fine, or into long slivers. Any meat needs to be defrosted and ready to go. Take six to eight eggs, crack them into a bowl, add a splash of milk (about a quarter cup) and some salt, then whisk with a fork (or a whisk if you have one).
At this point your frittata is nothing more than a hot oven, an empty skillet, and pile of ingredients. Heat the skillet on the range over medium high heat. Add butter or cooking oil to the skillet after it is up to temperature, and evenly coat the bottom and sides. Now start caramelizing your vegetables. I always start with onions first since it really brings out the sweetness. Using a metal spatula keep stirring and turning the onions so they don’t burn too much on any one side, a little carbon won’t kill you and isn’t a bad thing at this point. Once the onion is transparent and starting to brown, add the rest of the vegetables until everything is good and cooked.
Sometimes I like to add freeze dried chives to my egg mix to get rehydrated and add a little more flavor depth to the eggs.
If you have to cook meat, transfer the cooked veggies to a bowl for storage and cook the meat. Always drain the fat from your meat. Combine the veggies and meat into the skillet, and use the spatula to make them well blended. Now pour in the eggs, add some cheese to the top, and transfer directly into the oven. Leave in the oven for 10 minutes, and then start testing the center with toothpick every two minutes until the toothpick comes out clean. Alternately you can follow plenty of recipes online, and you can’t go wrong with Alton Brown: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/frittata-recipe.html
Next up is the omelet. I’ve found you can make a decent omelette with either two eggs or three. Combine eggs, splash of milk, and salt into a boil and whisk. This is where you need a stainless steel skilled with rounded sides or an actual omelette pan. Heat the pan on medium high heat, add oil (I really like butter for this, it’s a great mouth feel), and then pour in the egg mix. Using the handle of the pan, tilt the pan until the egg mix is an even circle in the pan, then look for one side cooking faster than the other, the side that is less done gets the cheese (or whatever) and the more cooked side done gets flipped. Flipping is more art than science and you’ll just have to practice it. TIP: any fillings going into an omelette must be fully cooked before hand and warmed up except for cheese which can be at room temperature or even cold from the fridge.
Last up is the classic sunny side up. Heat the skilled over medium high. Add oil as before. Crack one or two eggs and put in a cup (or two). Some people crack the eggs directly in the skillet, but my experience with this tells me that you are probably going to get eggshell in there and have to work against time to get it out. Once the eggs hit the hot skillet they will start cooking, add about two teaspoons of water and immediately cover the skillet. The water will turn to steam and cook the eggs nice and fluffy white on top leaving the yolk nice and runny (but warmed through). After a minute (more or less, you’ll have to actually practice) remove the cover, and transfer to plate with a spatula (careful not to break the yolk).
The great thing about these recipes is that a frittata you can cook the night before and enjoy a protein packed cold breakfast, and omelettes or eggs sunny side up (cooked properly) are quick to make for impromptu guests. And if you screw up an omelette, all you did was make scrambled eggs. Simple food prepared well is more impressive than fancy food screwed up.
Leave a comment about your favorite egg dish.