In culinary kitchens across the world, it is custom for high-ranking chefs to wear a white toque, or pleated chef’s hat. The toque dates back to the beginning of the culinary arts and has significant meaning in the kitchen. The hat a chef wears helps explain who they are and what they do. The most important and obvious purpose of a chef’s hat is to hold hair back from falling in the food; but, it also indicates the ranking and style of the chef wearing it. In addition, the toques are pleated. Historically, the number of pleats on a chef’s hat represents the different ways he or she is able to prepare an egg. Oftentimes, chefs can have up to 100 pleats on their toque and are therefore known to be able to cook an egg 100 different ways. Whether or not the pleats on a hat may actually bear this meaning, it is fun to think that someone is capable of using one ingredient to prepare so many different recipes.
The question then stands: are there really 100 different ways to cook an egg? I can quickly assure you that there are.
“An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different.” —Oscar Wilde
Eggs are one of the most important ingredients in the culinary world. Although they are widely known as a breakfast staple and prepared on a daily basis in the common ways of frying, scrambling, and boiling, some of an egg’s most amazing and vital uses are overlooked. Eggs act as binding agents in dishes such as crab cakes, leavening agents in cakes, thickening agents in custards and sauces, emulsifiers in dressings and mayonnaise, and clarifiers in soups and stocks.
Easily, eggs are one of the most delicious, versatile, and fun ingredients used in the kitchen. The possibilities that come with eggs are endless. Even if you end up with 20 fresh eggs a day, as we do at my house, you now know that there are a hundred or more possible ways to use them.
If you are still skeptical about the hundreds of different recipes for eggs, you’ll become more of a believer, if you are
willing to try at least one new way of egg preparation. One of my absolute favorite ways to prepare eggs is in the form of an omelet. When I make an omelet, I have no question that its going to be good. The process is simple, but the technique is beautiful and masterful when used correctly.
So, what comes first? The eggs, of course.
Crack 3 to 4 fresh eggs into a bowl, add some cream to make the omelet fluffy and season the eggs with salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices that call to you. Whisk the eggs until they become frothy and the mixture well-combined.
Now, here comes the fun part: an omelet is an open canvas. Anything can be placed in it or on it to make your own personal masterpiece. Onions, peppers, meats, tomatoes, cheeses—the options are endless.
Next, in a skillet with flared sides, set over medium heat, you will heat butter or oil. Add and sauté the chopped vegetables and meats you have chosen. When the additions become aromatic and gain a caramelized color, the magic begins. Pour the whisked egg mixture into the pan with the sautéed ingredients and begin pulling the edges of the egg toward the center of the pan while tipping the pan to the sides to fill in the open space. Continue the process until there is no more loose liquid in the pan, at which point you will turn the heat to low and let the eggs cook until lightly browned on the bottom. If you perform the process correctly, there should be no need to flip the omelet in the pan.
The last and tastiest step is adding any cheeses. Sprinkle them over the hot omelet and allow them to melt into your creation.
Slide the omelet to the edge of the pan and place it over the top of the plate. Allow the omelet to fall partially out of the pan and onto the plate. Gently finish the action by lifting the pan back over the plate and permitting the omelet to fold over itself.
Time to experience and enjoy your work of art. It honestly doesn’t get better than a warm, fluffy omelet, fully loaded and prepared with love.
I encourage you to come to love the egg and use it as often as possible. Start by making scrambled eggs, then move to a fried egg and prepare a sunny side up egg, an over-easy, a medium, hard, and over-hard egg. Next, try to boil an egg. When you’re comfortable with that method, attempt an omelet. Try the unique methods of poaching an egg or shirring eggs. Very soon, you’ll be on your way to the store to purchase yourself a 100-pleated toque and receive the title of “Master Egg Chef.”
Always remember the beauty and importance of eggs. Masterpieces await to be created. All you need is your imagination…
…and some eggs.
Brontë E. Mock
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