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Egg Collage


The Egg in Your Pantry

Eggs are certainly a mainstay of the pantry. I’m amazed by all the different things an egg can do. Their protein and lipid makeup is important to the physiology of cooking and baking so many dishes. In his book, Eggs, Michel Roux covers the many functions of the egg: a leavener in cakes, breads, and soufflés, a thickener in sauces and custards, a base for dressings, a coating for breaded fried foods, a glossy wash to brown baked goods- the list goes on and on. Eggs give structure to meringues and sponges. They act as a binder for meatballs. Eggs give form to batters for pancakes, waffles, and crêpes. Seriously, what can’t an egg do? Thank you, egg.  You are amazing!

Buying Eggs

When you set out to buy eggs for your home pantry, ask yourself, “What do I want in an egg?” Reading egg carton labels can be confusing, but if you think about purchasing eggs this way it becomes a lot simpler. I want to support farmers who treat chickens humanely. I want eggs from chickens that are healthy, allowed act like a chicken should: grazing in fields and eating bugs. I want local eggs that are tasty and fresh.  I do not want eggs from conventional farming where the chickens are treated with antibiotics, given feed that contains pesticides or GMOs, caged, or de-beaked. Ideally, you have access to local, farm-fresh eggs at a farmer’s market. If not, I suggest taking a hard look at what your local grocer has to offer. Read the labels carefully, research the company online, and taste eggs from several different producers. My grocer carries eggs from two local farms, and I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the taste of one farm’s eggs over the other. Be a smart consumer and make a conscious decision to support farmers you believe in. The way you spend your dollars in the store will have a direct effect on the choices you will have in the future.

Storing Eggs

Eggs should be kept in the refrigerator stored pointy side down, which keeps the yolk centered in the white. Egg shells are porous and will readily absorb odors in the fridge. You can keep them in their carton or store them in a pretty ceramic container like I do. I don’t fret about odors in the fridge, I just make sure to keep it super clean and always have an open container of baking soda to freshen the air. You can use the porous nature of eggs to your advantage by putting eggs in an airtight container with a truffle. It will infuse the eggs with the heady truffle aroma and that flavor will be present in your next omelet or scrambled egg.

Egg Tips

Mise en Place

I never break an egg directly into a pan or mixture. I break the egg into a little ramekin to make sure it’s fresh and ready to go when the cooking begins. Always crack an egg on the flat surface of your counter. Cracking an egg on the lip of a bowl can contaminate the inside of the egg with bacteria from the shell. Seriously, this is how professional chefs do it.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Don’t use a fresh egg to hard boil. It’s easier to peel a slightly older egg because the membrane has come away from the shell a bit. Peeling hard boiled eggs is a pain, but I find it’s made easier by shocking the egg in an ice bath after cooking. Maybe this shrinks it away from the shell a bit, I’m not sure. I just think it’s easier. I then peel the egg under running water. It’s best to be in a good mood when peeling hard boiled eggs, otherwise, you’re likely to tear them up.

Poaching Eggs

In her book, The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters suggests using only a very fresh egg for poaching. The poaching liquid should be very hot but not bubbling. She recommends the use of vinegar to speed up the coagulation of the whites.

Cooking Eggs on the Stove-top

Fried and scrambled eggs should be cooked slowly over low heat. I prefer the flavor of scrambled eggs cooked in butter and fried eggs in olive oil. Omelets should be cooked very quickly in a hot pan. I learned how to make an omelet from Julia Child.

Busy Cooks Know

Batters for pancakes and crêpes can be made the night before and refrigerated. This is also true for a soufflé, in which case the base can be refrigerated the day before baking.

 

Do you have any tips, tricks, or trusted techniques to share?

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For more information on eggs and conventional farming go here.
**Thanks Annette for allowing me to photograph the chickens, I really appreciate it.