The Chicken Or The Egg…

4 May

It may be the age-old question but for me the answer to ‘Which came first?’ is simple: The Egg. Not that I don’t love chicken. I’m obsessed with chicken, as some of you know. This obsession started early as we ate a lot of chicken when I was a child. Growing up in The South, we ate a lot of fried chicken. Mom made a killer Chicken Tetrazzini I still think of with intense fondness. We had roast chicken occasionally and, in my teen years when we were trying to get my dad to eat healthy, we ate a lot of grilled chicken. But even before my love of chicken there was The Egg.

I always loved eggs. I loved them even before I remember, well, anything. My first actual memory as a child isn’t an egg but is sitting in a movie theatre. This experience lead to my career path as well as to this blog. I remember actually falling in love with movies that day. I sat in the theatre thinking, ‘Yeah, Ok, I get it, that’s amazing, I love this, that’s what I want to do.‘ But I don’t have a moment in my memory where I fell in love with eggs. I simply always was in love with them. An egg has to be one of the first items of real food Mom fed me. We had them for breakfast 4 or 5 times a week … and occasionally for supper, ‘Breakfast for dinner’!… so I fell in love with them even before that first actual memory in the movie theatre.

This is a love affair that has not waned.

At this point I’m beating a dead horse but, my goodness, I love eggs. An egg truly is the perfect food. Not only can you eat one on its own in so many wonderful ways, an egg is remarkably versatile. An egg can do virtually anything or go into virtually anything. Feel free to suggest a food in which you can’t use an egg but I’m hard pressed to think of what. If a dish is savory, at the very least you can top it with a fried egg, a trend that has exploded in restaurants lately. If on the other hand a dish is sweet, chances are you can still beautifully incorporate an egg, for taste, for texture, for plain old wonderful goodness. The Egg is definitely a deserted island food for me. You know the game: If you could only have 5 foods for the rest of your life to eat on a deserted island, what would you choose? The egg is at the top of my list.

I still eat them most mornings. Sunny side up. Side note: I get irritated I have to say ‘Sunny Side Up’. It should be a given. The Default. I don’t understand how people can resist that gorgeous yellow yolk bursting out all over everything on the plate, including the plate. Allow me to be a teen girl for a moment and thinking of that wonderful yolk cry “OMG!”  Life doesn’t get much better.

So many eggs are consumed in the house on the hill that the backyard now has four chickens. Here’s one:

She looks fierce but she’s kind of sweet. Here are the eggs from this morning:

While I could continue to wax rhapsodically about the egg, let me instead give you two killer recipes. The second is my own simple way to fry an egg. Sunny Side Up. The Only Way. Even better is the first recipe, one of my favorite recipes of all time, Judy Rodgers’ Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs. Rodgers is the chef/owner of a great restaurant in San Francisco, The Zuni Cafe, which is best known for her Roast Chicken and Bread Salad, a truly divine dish that alone is worth a trip to San Francisco. Luckily, you can make it at home (click previous link).  

I have to love a woman who is best known for an amazing roast chicken.

The cookbook for The Zuni Cafe is also justifiably famous. I bought it, having heard much about the roast chicken salad. The book arrived late one afternoon, however, and I didn’t want to run to the store and buy anything. Martinis were probably involved. So I decided to scan the book and find a recipe with ingredients I had on hand. I found the recipe for Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs which sounded strange but I had the ingredients so I gave it a try. 

I made the dish, which is extremely easy, took one bite and my love affair with the egg was expounded ten fold. Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs is so good, in fact, when I cleaned my plate, I made the dish a second time. The second time was so good, no kidding, I made a third batch. I’d have kept going but I only had 6 eggs on hand. It is seriously that good. (And, as noted, Martinis were probably involved.) Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs is a dish so simple you can whip it up in just a few minutes. But from that simplicity and this certain combination of great ingredients, something magical is born. (No Progresso or Panko for this one, folks, never ever ever, you must make your own breadcrumbs for this, also ridiculously easy.) 

Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs is truly amazing. As amazing as The Egg.

(By the way, if you are interested in backyard chickens, it is a lot easier than you might think. This book, Chickens In Your Backyard, is a great guide to getting and raising your own chickens.)

Judy Rodgers’ FRIED EGGS IN BREADCRUMBS

For 1 serving:

Ingredients

3 T packed, fresh bread crumbs. Make them yourself from a great loaf of crusty bread. Just grate them on a cheese grater or pulse the bread a few times in a food processor. Grate the whole loaf and stick the leftovers in the freezer. These are terrific to have on hand. 

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

fresh thyme leaves

2 eggs

1 t red wine or sherry vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions

Sprinkle crumbs with salt in a non-stick skillet, then pour over olive oil and mix. Really saturate the crumbs with the oil. Place the skillet over medium heat. (Reserve a few crumbs if you like your eggs over easy… I know there are a few of you out there, hmph. Sprinkle these leftover crumbs over the top just before you ruin, I mean flip your eggs.)

Warm the crumbs through over medium heat and let them begin to dry. They will start to crackle. Stir once or twice as this happens.

As soon as the crumbs begin to brown, add a little more oil, a healthy scattering of thyme, then crack your two eggs right onto the crumbs. Cook until the eggs are as you like them. I like to scrape a few crumbs on top as they cook.

Slide the eggs and all crumbs onto a warm plate. Then add the vinegar to the hot skillet. Swirl it around, then drizzle the vinegar over the eggs. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper if desired. Dive in. 

Note: you can make a larger batch, but when I make these for more than one person, I like to do a batch at a time. It’s a great dish to eat in the kitchen, one person eating as you continue to cook. A simple, peppery green salad is a terrific accompaniment.

If you want some great pictures of this process, check out this wonderful blog post from Alexandra Cooks.

TOM’S PERFECT FRIED EGGS

2 eggs

olive oil

salt and pepper

Take a small skillet and very lightly cover with olive oil. I drizzle a little in the skillet, then run it around with my fingers to make sure the entire skillet is covered. Not too much! Just enough.

Crack both eggs into the cold skillet. Place the cold skillet over low heat. Step away from the skillet. Let the eggs slowly cook. Don’t touch the skillet. Let the eggs cook. This takes a little longer than cracking eggs into a hot skillet, but they cook up perfectly, with no black or brown edges. Cook to your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper and enjoy.

This is a not very good picture I made of this morning’s eggs. I need a better camera.

19 Responses to “The Chicken Or The Egg…”

  1. Lindsay May 4, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    I will shoot stills of your eggs with a really good camera if you make me breakfast.

    Eggs, preferably.

  2. shadowolfhunter May 4, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    I have to admit that my obsession is omelette. I have been obsessed with omelettes since I was about six, http://www.blipfoto.com/entry/1750869. Eggs have always been a large proportion of my diet, boiled eggs and toast soldiers was a breakfast staple for years. But omelette was definitely my favourite. Just plain, or with ham, or cheese… but mostly just on its own.

    • onfoodandfilm May 4, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      SJ, I never liked omelettes growing up because in America they tend to be good fast and hard and I don’t like the way the egg tastes. But a couple of years ago I was taught how to do a slow, soft french omelette, particularly a goat cheese and chive omelette. It is wonderful and I make one every couple of weeks… and did it this morning in your honor!

      • shadowolfhunter May 4, 2012 at 8:40 am #

        I am honoured, Monsieur…

        French omelette is a work of eggy genius… I love the stuff.

  3. Betty Provost May 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    So happy I checked out your blog this evening while I was thinking about what to cook for supper -with nothin’ much in the cupboard. But of course I have eggs, olive oil and breadcrumbs! So I’m off to the kitchen to have Breakfast for Dinner. P.S. Tom, I always enjoy your references to your mom and dad – I remember them fondly, and they did love good food.

    • onfoodandfilm May 4, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

      Betty! Please let me know what you think of the recipe. And thanks so much for following me here. It made my day to hear from you!

      • Betty Provost May 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

        Tom, I loved the Fried Eggs and Breadcrumbs! Nice to find a recipe to dress up a fried egg. Omelettes are great, but I agree with you that Sunny Side Up is the way God intended eggs to be eaten..

        • onfoodandfilm May 7, 2012 at 8:15 am #

          So glad you liked them! And glad you like SSU… the only way! :)

  4. Mike Chapman May 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is a nice cheese souffle–my mom used to make one for her, Dad, and me after church on Sundays. I’ve been whipping up a 2-egg souffle for myself every Tuesday for the past few years, and it’s one of the highlights of my week. Thanks for the recipes!!

    • onfoodandfilm May 6, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Mike! We need a recipe! How do you make your cheese souffle??

      • Mike Chapman May 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

        Sent it to you via Facebook. Let me know what you think! (I’ve never experimented with different cheeses–only ever used cheddar or mozzarella–the recipe recommends any of 3 different types)

        • onfoodandfilm May 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

          Mike’s Cheese Souffle everyone! (Mike, I am a little confused with the foil… the buttered foil is outside the dish? Picture next Tuesday?? :)

          Cheese Souffle

          6 TBSP butter
          1/3 cup all purpose flour
          dash ground red pepper
          1 1/2 cup milk
          3 cups shredded, cheddar, process Swiss, Colby or Havarti cheese (12 oz)
          6 egg yolks
          6 egg whites

          Oven 350 degrees

          Measure enough foil to wrap around a 2 qt souffle dish w/6 inches to spare. Fold foil into 3rds lengthwise. Lightly butter one side. With buttered side in, position foil around dish, letting it extend 2 inches above the top. Fasten the foil.

          For cheese sauce, in a saucepan melt butter, stir in flour and red pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Add cheese, 1 cup @ a time, stirring till melted. In a bowl, beat yolks w/fork till combined. Slowly add cheese sauced to yolks, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.

          In a bowl, beat egg whites till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold about 2 cups of the stiffly beaten whites into cheese sauce.

          Gradually pour cheese sauce over remaining stiffly beaten whites, folding to combine. Pour into the ungreased souffle dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 50 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Gently peel off foil; serve souffle immediately. Makes 6 servings.

          • Mike Chapman May 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

            Yes, foli taped around the outside to add 2 + inches of height to the edge of the souffle dish so the souffle can rise up like a chef’s hat–otherwise, it comes out all over the sides of the dish.

          • onfoodandfilm May 11, 2012 at 11:31 am #

            Ah ok! Got it!!

  5. Mike Chapman May 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    whoops, that should be FOIL!

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