Day 5: Egg
The day on which this section fell on my schedule was a happy accident. Perfect timing to cover an ingredient that is synonymous with breakfast on a Saturday.
While I was reading the introductory essay on the egg and common preparation methods, Ruhlman had a distinct shift in his tone of writing. Let me explain…
Up until this section, Ruhlman’s love of cooking and of the subjects/ingredients he has covered thus far has come across in a certain way. He conveys the information by speaking in alternatively instructional and affectionate tones. It’s enjoyable to see how much he loves what he does.
But with this section, there was a whole other feeling. It went from affectionate appreciation of the subject to fully realized love. Example:
Finally, the egg is meaningful simply as a beautiful object, the hard but delicate shell protecting the life within, its elliptical curves symbolic of life and fertility.
The egg is divine. (p.104)
If that doesn’t sound like a love letter to the egg then I don’t know what does. Such lovely language! Even when discussing different preparations for the egg, terms like “velvety“, “magically succulent” and “smooth and delicate” are all over the section. Never before have I seen such writing about the egg.
Before reading this section, I had a good appreciation for the many things that an egg can do. After reading this, I too found myself swooning at the possibilities that I had never thought to try.
Make no mistake though, nestled in this love letter is some solid information. In fact, right in the middle of it is a discussion of how to poach an egg. And no, it does not involve getting an egg poaching pan or some other egg poaching appliance. He makes a veiled reference to his self-described “Bad Ass Perforated Spoon (aka The Egg Spoon)“, which has officially been added to my list of things to get for my kitchen.
Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Chives
Since this is a fairly straightforward recipe, I’m going to discuss it in a bit more of a detailed way than I have been with the previous recipes. Who among us have never made scrambled eggs? Exactly.
Here’s another confession from me – I have always…always…made my scrambled eggs “dry”. This means that when I made them, there would be no discernible runny or wet yolk left. It’s something that started when I was a kid and found the runny yolk kind of well…gross.
As I got older, I developed an appreciation of fried eggs “over easy” and in very rare cases, “sunny side up”. But for some reason, I never did carry that appreciation for the runny yolk over to my scrambled eggs. They always remained dry.
The preparation for this recipe involves using a double-boiler method of cooking. For those that have never done that – basically you have a pan or bowl sitting on top of a pot of boiling water. This method is most often seen as a go-to way to melt chocolate without the risk of scorching it with too much heat. It provides an even, lower-heat application.
The reason he recommends this method has everything to do with the way the egg behaves in high heat. It’s delicate. So although I had come to love scrambled eggs so dry that it had a bit of browning to them, I realized that I really should stick to the principle of preparing them over a lower heat and have them wet.
Because my pans are new, I haven’t had a chance to figure out how I would create a double-boiler with them. To be honest, it’s a method I don’t use all that often.
I got around that by cooking them on the lowest setting possible on my stove top, alternating between the “low” setting and the “warm” setting on the burner.
If you have a gas range and cannot easily create a double-boiler, it might be a bit more difficult because gas ranges impart heat differently than an electric range. It’s generally easier to manipulate, but I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that I think that this was a rare instance where I benefitted from not having a gas range. Finally, the electric range’s notorious tendency to not heat up as hot as it should benefitted me!
I think that I may have still over-cooked them a tiny bit, but they still came out great. So not only did I learn how to cook eggs over a lower heat, I discovered what I had suspected when I started cooking this morning – that I actually like scrambled eggs when they aren’t cooked into oblivion.
And yes, your eyes to not deceive you – that is tarragon, not chives on top. I will say only that he does offer up other things that you can use to garnish the eggs and I really like tarragon So, if you allow me a bit of leeway, I can say that I didn’t exactly “tweak” the recipe since the chives component was a garnish.
Note on tomorrow:
Just a reminder that I will not be posting tomorrow, as it is Sunday. A girl needs a break! I’ll be back on Monday, January 7th, covering the section on Butter. Have a wonderful weekend!