Cheap Tricks: The Incredible Egg
Looking for cheap protein during hard times? Have an egg for supper. Despite the financial challenges we’re all facing at the supermarket checkout, the cost of a dozen eggs remains a serious bargain.
And I’m not just talking about the mass-produced variety in the refrigerated case in Any Town (which are currently about $1.50 per dozen); the local farmstead eggs (which I highly recommend for their unparalleled flavor) from your neighborhood farm market might run five or six bucks, tops – about 50 cents per serving.
In fact, even if the price of a dozen eggs skyrocketed to a dozen dollars, the cost per serving would still be ridiculously cheap. (Now that’s a real dollar menu!)
Here at the Casa, eggs are a supper staple not just because they’re so cheap, but because they’re so darn versatile both in method and flavoring. When it’s past seven, and neither one of us has a dinner clue, we look to the egg to bail us out.
Should a plate of scrambled eggs feel too much like breakfast at the diner, pair them up with salad greens, arugula, chopped tomatoes or a bunch of roasted asparagus. Suddenly, those eggs feel elegant and light rather than greasy spoon fare. Who says you need home fries every time you crack an egg?
I love the simplicity of an omelet, which I often pair with a handful of fresh herbs and a sprinkling of grated parmigiano. With a glass of red wine, a hunk of bread -- be it pita, tortilla, naan -- I’m set in about eight minutes. (Here are some useful tips for omeletting.)
Make an egg pie -- that’s how I describe a frittata, which also happens to be a terrific Eating Down the Fridge dish, playing nice with anything you’ve got lurking in the veggie crisper drawer. I like to make this when I’ve got a bigger crowd to feed, and serves beautifully even at room temperature.
When there’s leftover rice in the fridge, that’s my cue to fried up an egg like a pancake in a wok, then slice it into thin strips, spritz with sesame oil, then add to wok-fried rice and whatever quick-cooking veggies I’ve got on hand, plus a splash of soy sauce. Dinner is ready in about four minutes.
I’m also partial to fried eggs (particularly when they’re really fresh), cooked in olive oil (and cooked on low-medium heat, with a lid, so as to keep white from hardening up like plastic), then placed on a warmed up and oil-lathered corn tortilla, with some shredded cheese and other Mister MA add-ons, such as salsa, a slice of avocado or a few spoonfuls of warmed-up black beans. Some might call this dish huevos rancheros, but I call it heaven.
I’m less of a fan of poached (cooked in simmering water, usually with a small amount of vinegar) eggs, but they do have great utility, pairing up beautifully with spinach, chard, tomatoes and myriad sauces, including hollandaise, red wine and marinara.
I’m more intrigued by shirred eggs (known as oeufs en cocotte in French), which are typically baked in a buttered ramekin, often with a splash of cream and paired up with spinach, cheese, polenta, even asparagus. Fifteen minutes is all you need for a medium-hard center, still with a little yolky goo that’s good for dipping.
I’ll stop here and let you share your most treasured ways of eating the incredible spendable egg. Heck, I'll even take your tips for egg salad and not hold it against you -- weigh in and start cracking those shells now!
By Kim ODonnel |
April 7, 2009; 7:30 AM ET
Cooking on a Budget
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