Eggs are sexy. I don’t care what anyone says, and if you don’t like eggs, you’re wrong (barring you poor souls with egg allergies, my heart bleeds for you). The stories about cooking eggs being used as an interview in great kitchens? Yup, it’s a thing. I almost had to make the maple poached eggs I covered in my post on maple for a stage once, and just the mention of the things got me the interview. What I’m saying is, eggs are no joke (insert pun here). My everyday breakfast food? Eggs, in some way shape or form. Rent meal staple? Eggs, in shakshuka or in a spicy cream sauce with chickpeas, and if you feel like it, prosciutto. My death row meal? Probably eggs, to be honest. Keep your lobster, truffles, and wagyu, and lay me down with a scramble or eggs Benny.
Why eggs? Who the hell knows. Maybe it was the lure of a Saturday morning at my Gram’s before fishing and the golden ratio of egg yolk to butter on perfectly toasted white bread. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the first food I learned to cook refusing to give quarter after almost 20 years. Maybe it was the subtle propaganda of that girl from The Amanda Show routinely declaring, “I like eggs.” Me too girl, me too.
Some people will go to great lengths for eggs. I think I’m one of those people. At the same time, wars have been fought over eggs. Would I climb a sheer sea cliff to get at some pink-yolked seabird eggs? Maybe. What I wouldn’t do is start an ethnic war to have a monopoly over them. That’ll be a no for me, dog. If you want the whole story of how eggs came to be worth $35 and apparently worth dying for, check out Ridiculous History’s podcast here.
In reality, it’s probably the sheer number of things you can create with an egg. Boil it? You bet. Scramble it? Certainly. Fry it? Frickin’ right. That’s a great wheelhouse, but it’s also a just a snowball sitting on the tip of the iceberg. You want it, eggs can do it. Don’t believe me? Here’s an inside-out boiled egg that takes no time and will make your coworkers wonder if you’re right in the head. Want to be a weekday gourmand? Cure some egg yolks and become egg bae as you sprinkle pure richness on whatever you damn well please. Hell, If you’re short on time for a middle school science experiment all you need is a bottle, a lighter, a hardboiled egg and a newspaper clipping; all you need for a right proper C-.
Eggs aren’t even too proud to play second fiddle to a dish. Want to up your sandwich game? Aioli tastes as great as it sounds. Caesar dressing, the real stuff? No yolk is a no go. Need more egg for your egg? Well, slap Hollandaise sauce on an egg and call it Benedict. Too much egg? Throw it on asparagus or fish and let it take you for a ride. Whatever you want, eggs got you.
These are a few of my go-to egg recipes, one’s mine, one I picked up as a cook, and one comes to us from the fine folks at Bon Appetit.
I’ll be up front, I didn’t have a Nonna to school me in the old-world basics. This is an American kid’s attempt at a carbonara, but that said, recipes change and grow with time, just like the rest of us. That said, my carbonara’s not bad. The classic version is great for sure, but I’ve used the technique to make versions as different as a toasted corn carbonara with green tomato. Whatever form your carbonara takes, one thing is for certain: you need egg yolks. Here’s my classic-ish version.
- Bucatini or spaghetti (half a box serves about 3)
- 4 egg yolks
- Guanciale if you can find it, else pancetta, 4 oz, ¼ inch dice.
- 2 oz of ground Pecorino Romano
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- Pepper to taste
- Chopped parsley and extra pecorino to dress.
- Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Salt. Your. Damn. Water. Not just a little, make the water salty. If you don’t, we can’t be cool. Also, use a large pot so you don’t have to break whatever long pasta you end up using. Every time you break spaghetti in half, a nonna in the hills outside Rome sheds a single tear.
- Begin to heat a pan over medium. Add your guanciale and allow the fat to render and cook until on the edge of crispy. Remove the guanciale, add your shallots and cook until opaque, taking care not to burn them. Cut the heat to the pan.
- When your water boils, add your pasta and give a stir to keep from sticking to the bottom. Allow to cook until just before al dente, the drain, reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Do not skip this step. Along with adding egg yolks, it’s the most important step.
- Place your pasta into the pan (yeah, yeah *gasp*) with the shallots, your guanciale, yolks, Pecorino, and pepper to taste. The heat of the pasta, not the pan, should thicken the egg yolks, turning the mixture into a thick sauce to coat your pasta. Add the reserved pasta water and mix in, making the sauce creamy.
- Serve, dressed with chopped parsley and extra Pecorino.
Cured Egg Yolks
If you can get your mitts on some duck eggs, use them for this recipe. They’re bigger, they’re prettier, and they're generally tastier. If not, egg yolks will do better than fine. Cured egg yolks are easy, tasty, and will impress just about anyone.
- 3 cups salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- Separate the eggs from the yolks, removing as much white as you can. The easiest way I’ve seen to do it is to crack your eggs into a large bowl and remove the yolks by hand, then transferring them to another bowl. Don’t break the yolks once they get to the second bowl. Just, don’t.
- Mix salt and sugar, then pour half into a small jelly roll pan, covering the bottom.
- Place the egg yolks into the pan gingerly, leaving plenty of room between the yolks. Use the rest of the salt-sugar mix to cover the yolks, making sure that no yellow is exposed.
- Place on a shelf and let cure for three days. Shave on whatever your lil’ heart desires.
One Skillet Creamy Chickpeas with Eggs and Prosciutto
Like I said, this isn’t my recipe, but I love it so. It was single-handedly worth a BA subscription. If you feel like something other than pancakes on a Saturday, this is a fantastic go to, and the prep and clean-up is a breeze.
There’s a big, wide world of eggs out there. Now go eat something good.