Thursday, November 29, 2012

Breakfast specialty: Louisville Lady Gourmet Eggs in a Basket!

The original Egg in a Basket
I can't believe I haven't written about this magnificent breakfast yet! I am pretty much known for my Eggs in a Basket. If you ever get to brunch at my house, it's either these babies or some form of pancake. This time we didn't have decent maple syrup in the house, so eggs in a basket it was.

I was originally inspired to try this out when I first saw V for Vendetta, way back in the day. I think perhaps it was the reaction of  Natalie Portman's character Evey, to that first breakfast with her kidnapper. She was overwhelmed with how delicious it was, and V quietly said that he had had plenty of time to master it. One of the true culinary-inspired scenes that stick out in my mind. I do think it is something to master...and I think I have, at least to my tastes.

To some, mastering might mean achieving perfection in one means of preparation, and the ability to replicate that one dish flawlessly for infinity. To me, mastering is being able to truly understand the dish and how its qualities can lead to constant, always delicious, evolution. I could crack and egg in the middle of some toast frying in a skillet any day...but can I transform that by adding ingredients and techniques to make the meal special and just as tasty every time? Yes, I think I can, and that is my goal in cooking. I clearly won't be making it to Le Cordon Bleu anytime soon :)

A seemingly simple breakfast: cutting a hole out of a piece of bread and frying an egg inside. But oh how many problems can arise, as well as many possibilities. You can have the heat too high and burn the bread before the egg is flippable, you can flip too soon and splatter egg all over the pan (easily redeemable, just cut around the toast and eat it as such), you can forget to season, and worst of all--you can have pale yellow yolked eggs...pure evil.

From my always optimistic point-of-view, you can turn this simple dish into something truly delicious.  The best way to accomplish this is to play with your seasonings. Curry and chili powder work amazing in eggs. Salt, white pepper, chili powder, and Hot Chili Sauce are incredible. Thyme, parsley, salt and black pepper work well with a squeeze of lemon. My recommendation is always going to be experimentation.

Also, I've never tried it, but I am sure that frying up some omelet ingredients and adding that to your egg in a basket is a fine idea--especially for those of the insatiable appetite quality. Now, something I have added that is pretty much common sense, is plenty of cheese. You can mix it in with the egg, sprinkle it on top, or fry it up in the pan...I would go with romano cheese or a nice shaving of parmesan.

Enough talk about your breadth of choices with this fine breakfast, let's get on with the recipe!

Eggs in a Basket
Eggs (one per slice of toast)
Hearty bread, preferably whole wheat or multi-grain
Real unsalted butter

Biscuit/cookie cutter or small glass
The idea is very simple, but I'm going to give you two specific variations on this, dependent on the form of the eggs. 

In any case, the first thing you're going to do is cut out the center of your bread so you have a hole, also known as the basket. You can use many tools for this project, the easiest being a biscuit cutter, but if you can't find yours for the love of god, like I can't, then you can use a small glass and press it into the bread until you can pop a circle out. I also got cute with this one and made a fleur de lis basket with our handy-dandy cookie cutter. It doesn't really show up after you cook it, but it looks adorable in the pan, and you fry up the fleur de lis you cut out anyway, so I just set that on top--so the happy diner would know that it was a fleur de lis cutout. Okay, enough of my kitchiness.

When you have cut the hole out of your bread, you need to take a moment to reflect on how you like your eggs. Here is where the two styles of preparation come in. Do you like the idea of a warm, silky flow of rich egg yolk bursting forth from the middle of your egg in a basket, just waiting to be sopped up by the surrounding buttery bread? Or would you prefer an evenly seasoned scrambled egg full of melted cheese and spices, and perhaps you're scared of the aforementioned yolk of my dreams? Those are your choices, friend.

The Louisville Egg in a Basket
If you want a full egg, you just crack the egg in the middle of the hole you made and go to town. If you prefer a scrambled egg, you can whisk the egg up and add cheese and salt--the other seasonings I would add while cooking in the pan for even distribution...spices tend to clump up and sink to the bottom with scrambled eggs. Then pour that mixture in the hole you made.

Your skillet should be heated pretty hot, but you will have to decrease the flame when you are cooking the egg, so as to not burn that side, and to cook the egg enough from the bottom up not to splatter it when you do decide to flip it. You can melt about a tablespoon or two of butter in the pan, and instead of buttering the other side of the bread, I just press the bread down into the butter and flip it over before adding the egg. That way, when you flip it, the other side of the bread will brown evenly and it saves on the amount of butter you need to use. If you're too scared to flip a piece of bread by hand in a hot skillet you can brush melted butter on it. Season the egg with your seasonings--remember to sprinkle high so that you get an even distribution of spices. You will know to flip the egg when the inside white is not so jiggly, then muster up some courage and flip it over!

If you are cooking with scrambled eggs, you will inevitably end up with more egg than fits in your basket. What I do in this case is take the hole that I cut out and soak that in the remaining egg mixture--then you have a french toast hole! It's going to be a thing...Finally, you can garnish with hot sauce and cheese and serve with a side of bacon or fresh cut fruit. I think this would be a nice side to salad too, especially in a brunch scenario.

So you can't tell it's a fleur de lis? Put the
bread on top of it while serving!
Yolk lava...mind-blowing!

Enjoy my favorite breakfast! ¡Buen provecho!

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