Consider the simple, satisfying egg. Very fresh eggs from local farms, with bright sunny yolks and their very eggy essence, are the most affordable kitchen luxury. Their flavor is dependent on the way the chickens are raised. It’s true, hens that are allowed to roam and scratch in the yard and have a more varied diet deliver better-tasting eggs.
Available, accessible, inexpensive and easy to use, eggs are far more than breakfast fare. Fried eggs on rice with fresh salsa and chopped cilantro and basil, poached eggs spilling into a salad of frisée and lardons or a straightforward scramble with spinach and chèvre — all make a mighty good meal at any time of day.
When choosing eggs, the color of the shell does not matter. It will tell you the breed of the chicken that laid it. Brown eggs come from Rhode Island Reds; those pretty pale blue, green and taupe eggs are from South America Araucana.
The size of the egg notes the age of the hen, with older birds laying the larger size. If scrambling one or two eggs, size doesn’t matter much. But know that there are about seven medium eggs to five extra-large or jumbo eggs.
The best way to store them is in the carton on a bottom shelf, not in the refrigerator door, which tends to be warmer and subject to temperature variations as the door opens and closes.
I admit a passion for scrambles. While they are ridiculously easy, there are a few important tricks to making sure they’re outrageously, deliciously silky. And now, as fresh herbs are coming into the garden and the spinach is still young and tender, is the peak season for scrambles. All you need are the herbs, fresh local spinach and the right technique.
Most important is to follow James Beard’s advice to take it slow with eggs, over low heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the curds as they form. This takes a little longer than most recipes specify, about 25 minutes per 2 to 3 eggs. A few minutes, before they’re ready, stir in the chopped herbs and any tender leafy greens or cooked vegetables and a little cheese. Your patience will be rewarded every time.
A scramble is the perfect meal for one or two and makes wonderful use of whatever’s fresh from the garden or market. On a solitary evening, after a long busy day, nothing is better than a book and a very good egg.
Spinach Scramble With Chives and Chèvre
Note: Vary the vegetables and herbs in this bright, simple scramble. Try cooked asparagus or peas or chopped fresh cherry tomatoes. Chèvre adds a creamy tang, but shredded mozzarella or Havarti would work nicely, too. From Beth Dooley.
• 4 to 5 eggs
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 c. torn or sliced fresh spinach
• 1/4 c. chèvre (goat cheese)
• 1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Set a small skillet over low heat and melt the butter. Add the eggs and, using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir frequently, scraping the sides of the pan. Continuously break up any curds or clumps of egg yolks that form.
While the eggs are still runny, but partly cooked, after about 15 minutes, fold in the spinach, and then the chèvre. Cook until the chèvre is melted through, another 8 to 10 minutes. Just before serving, top the eggs with the chives and serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 260 Fat 20 g Sodium 300 mg
Carbohydrates 2 g Saturated fat 9 g Total sugars 1 g
Protein 17 g Cholesterol 395 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Exchanges per serving: 2 ½ medium-fat protein, 1 ½ fat.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.