A Hundred Ways to Cook an Egg.

green plant growing through eggshell on clay hand

There must be a thousand ways to cook an egg, right? Without even adding any other ingredients, there are dozens. Apart from water, and maybe flour, there is no more essential ingredient in the kitchen. So what makes them so important? What properties and scientific magic is going on with this small oval object? Let’s investigate.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, no, the egg, no, the chicken, no, the egg. It’s enough to make your head spin right off your neck. We’ve all been through the logic; most of us end up at the same place. As Luna Lovegood, the dreamy yet dotty witch from Harry Potter put it when asked the riddle, “A circle has no beginning.” And indeed, attempting to identify the first case of a circular cause and consequence is an exercise in utter futility. For those who don’t have a pat story involving a divine being who spits out perfectly formed species, it’s a no-win situation. Here is a fun little video explanation; https://youtu.be/1a8pI65emDE

Egg Science.

Eggs are composed of mostly water, with proteinsfats and minerals. Eggs are a versatile food that are prepared as a stand-alone food, or combined with other ingredients to create sauces, custards, batters, and foams.

FARMED & PROCESSED EGGS

Most are produced in large factory farms and some are not very hospitable environments for chickens. They are exposed to artificial light and live in small battery cages that are two or three rows high. Each cage can house from 3-10 chickens in very cramped space. Some plants today are being modernized to allow for better lighting and space accommodations.  More humane methods are being used by producers to give consumers options when purchasing eggs.

  • Free Range as defined by the USDA require that birds have access to the outdoors.
  • Cage-free from birds that are not raised in cages, but in floor systems usually in an open barn.
  • Organic eggs come from chickens fed organic feed and given no antibiotics.
  • Vegetarian eggs are produced from chickens fed only vegetarian feed with no meat added.

Undercooked eggs in sauces like mayonnaise and Hollandaise always carry the risk of active salmonella bacteria so cooking them to 140°F for 5 minutes or 160°F for one minute is recommended. Pasteurized eggs, heated to temperatures between 130-140°F/55–60°C (just below the range in which the egg proteins begin to coagulate), are also an option and are available in a variety of forms including whole, separated, or dried.

A Hundred Ways

So the story goes that the 100 folds in a chef’s hat represent the 100 ways to cook an egg, but is this true? Well, let’s see…there’s scrambled, over easy, over medium, over hard, poached, shirred, soft boiled, hard boiled, pickled, baked, sunny side up; in an omelette, quiche, or frittata; etc, etc, etc. And of course as I stated above, this is only scratching the surface. Included in recipes, there are thousands of ways to cook with them. Often abused in the most hideous ways. Overcooked, undercooked, wasted or worse. I personally love eggs, so this disturbs me. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, there are a few simple things any decent cook should be able to do without giving a thought. One of them is cooking a classic French Omelet. At the very least, cooking a proper fried egg, over easy…

For a few more pastry related ideas and recipes, check out one of my previous posts, here; http://www.professionalchefsfoodnetwork.org/2021/05/26/dessert/

A wonderful gift from Mother Earth to be respected and admired. It’s a perfect food in terms of nutritional value, and lends so much to us culinarily speaking. Enjoy, your day, and don’t forget breakfast. Cheers!