Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dwarf Eggs and Crack

Dear Tricia, Sometimes on shows I see chefs carefully pouring eggs into a pan like they're trying to get the yolk and just a little bit of white. The visual result is a little "mini" egg where the yolk is half or more the diameter of the entire cooked result. Is this just some silly fanciness or is there a point and trick to it? I've heard it's better to crack an egg on a flat surface as opposed to a lip, what do you think?

Honestly? Its silly fanciness. The people who made up that trick are the ones who will serve you "roasted leg of songbird with aspirin sauce," as David Sedaris puts it. If you're referring to something you've seen on "Hells Kitchen," then I don't know what you're talking about. For some reason, when people find out I work in a restaurant kitchen, they always ask if I watch that show. I have NEVER watched that show. I live it every single day of my life. I'd rather spend my rare hours with the TV watching "Labyrinth" and examining David Bowie's spandex. But if you're referring to something you saw on "Top Chef," then its just an episode I've missed. Did I ever mention that I used to drink beers with Marcel, one of the early seasons' villian-esque competitors? His hair isn't really that weird looking. He's also not quite as villiany as he appears on the tube. But once again, I digress.
If you'd like to recreate the silly fancy small-white egg trick (and I don't know why you'd want to), just take your egg and separate the white and the yolk. The easiest way to do this is to crack the egg in half (more about that in a few. Be patient.) and keep it in the shell. Keep it over a bowl to drop the white into and just shift the yolk back and forth between the two egg halves until the white drops off into the bowl. The yolk will naturally have some of the white still attached to it and you can cook it as such.
As I was asking my fellow crazies (ahem, I mean... fellow colleagues) at work about this "mini egg" dilemma, none of them had ever heard of it. Their immediate response was, "Is he referring to a quail egg?" which are tiny eggs that fry just like regular chicken eggs, but obviously come from quail. Sounds like you're asking about something different, but I just wanted to put that out there. If you want tiny eggs, you may be able to special order quail eggs from a specialty grocer (like the ones who ruthlessly fired me... Whole Foods.... you know who you are...).
Now, about cracking eggs. As I've stated before, it's all about what works for YOU. There really is no "proper" way to crack eggs, you just have to be mindful if you get some shell in there. I have found that in my years of cooking breakfast for a living (I'm guessing 20,000 eggs?), cracking eggs is much more successful on a flat surface, as opposed to the corner of the kitchen counter. But if you've found that the opposite works for you, then stick with that. I'm not going to tell you what's right or wrong. Try them both. Pick which one's better. Problem solved. Also, you may want to crack your eggs into a bowl before you put them into a pan, just in case you break a yolk and wanted it to be whole.
Another tip: the easiest way to get pieces of broken shell out of your eggs is to use... an eggshell. It cuts right through the white and picks up said broken shell much faster than using your fingers. I've tried to be smarter than the eggshell so many times but I just ended up chasing the tiny bit of shell around with my fingers for like 10 minutes. Allow me to make that mistake for you and just go with the eggshell on eggshell method.

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