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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Eggs at dinner

Eggs Take Their Place at the Dinner Table

Published: October 4, 2006

IT symbolizes fertility and beauty, and it has an unrivaled simplicity of form. It represents one of the most perfect of foods, from just about every standpoint: nutrition, flavor and versatility. And it has an unrivaled ability to stand alone or to contribute to other dishes.

Poached eggs take on the color of their winy broth, and are topped by croutons.

What it doesn’t represent is dinner.

Meet the still underrated egg, everybody’s favorite breakfast food in a world in which people eat a real breakfast once a week. The egg, the cheapest form of complete protein you can find, at about a dollar a pound. (Eggs cost less outside of cities, where a dozen are still a buck; more if you go organic or really local, which are both good options.) The egg, which people are suddenly jumping for in upscale restaurants even though they can’t conceive of having it for dinner at home, except in an emergency. The egg, a surprising choice.

Maybe it’s too downscale. “Our consumption of eggs peaked in 1945,” a point at which meat was in relatively short supply because of the war, said Don Bell, emeritus poultry specialist for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As meat became more widely available, egg consumption, Mr. Bell said, “dropped by around three eggs a year until about 12 years ago, when it started climbing again.”

Or maybe it’s fear about cholesterol. And then there’s salmonella, the reason health officials recommend not serving “undercooked” eggs — the way they taste good — to young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

All that aside, we have come to reappreciate the egg at dinner. That’s partly thanks to the popularity of salade lyonnaise, a pile of greens with bacon and a soft-cooked egg on top, and partly thanks to chefs in what seems like every restaurant in town who have begun offering soft-cooked egg in one form or another.

Scrambled eggs should be done following the technique Jean-Georges Vongerichten (a disclosure: we write books together) uses for his famous soft-scrambled eggs topped with spiced whipped cream and caviar. Combine the eggs with butter or other fat in a cold saucepan and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to thicken and curdle; if the mixture begins to stick on the bottom, remove it from the heat for a moment and continue to beat, then return it to the heat. The eggs will eventually become creamy, with small curds all over — not unlike loose oatmeal — and they’re ready. Cooking any longer at this point is disastrous

posted by Steve @ 2:27:00 AM

2:27:00 AM

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