Hello dear Food-G readers! I hope you've been enjoying our sail through the balmy Caribbean. I have many more island flavors to share with you, but let's get out of the heat for just a moment, and come back to Montana, USA for some skiing (snowboarding in my case).
On a recent visit to Big Sky, Montana, my good friend whom I will call Lady Budd, showed me a really cool way to cook eggs. It was a beautiful morning and we were whipping up a quick breakfast before heading up the mountain to shred Lone Peak. Lady Budd is a great cook, and healthy too--a real pro with veggies. So she grabbed an assortment of items from her produce drawer for a scramble: a few potatoes, garlic, broccoli, zucchini, button mushrooms, and grape tomatoes. I helped her chop it all up while we heated a large nonstick skillet with a little olive oil and a little butter-- that's a trick I learned from Chef Marco, my favorite instructor at CCA; using both olive oil and butter together creates a more interesting flavor than one or the other alone, and is especially nice with eggs.
Lady Budd disappeared to gear up, while I sauteed the veggies. The trick here is knowing when to add what. Potatoes take the longest to cook, so I added those first, over medium-high heat along with the garlic. A few minutes later, I added the button mushrooms and zucchini, and once everything was tender (not crisp, not mushy) and a little brown in spots, I added the tomatoes. I gave it all a light sprinkle of salt and pepper, and turned the heat down to low/medium low.
The whole time I was sauteeing, I was thinking, This is too much veg for a scramble. The beautiful yellow egg is going to look lost and brown amongst this big pan of veggie hash.
What to do? When Lady Budd returned I asked her if we should do the eggs on the side.
"We can just baste them," she said.
"Baste?" I had never cooked eggs that way. "What is this basting of which you speak?"
"It's kind of like poaching them," Lady Budd explained, "but instead of breaking them into water, you cook them with steam. We can just crack the eggs on top of the veggies, cover it with a lid, and the steam from the vegetables will cook the eggs right on top."
"I love this idea!" I said. The wonderful thing about cooking is that there's always something new to learn.
"We can sprinkle some cheese on the veggies before we add the eggs, so that it melts underneath," and with that Lady Budd crumbled some fresh goat cheese onto the veggies, and then poured the cracked (but not beaten) eggs evenly atop the hash. She turned the heat to medium-low so as not to burn the veg, and then began the steaming process by use of a tight fitting lid. It took about 10 minutes for the eggs to set up. Heather used a big spatula to dish our breakfast into shallow bowls, and then we sprinkled on some diced avocado and chopped gree onion. Wa lah!
Poaching eggs can be time consuming and frustrating. This technique, however, was equally healthy and way easier. They're all done at the same time and you can serve it up nice and hot, right out of the pan. So delicious and nourishing. A perfect ski breakfast. We were fueled up and ready to go make some turns in the sunshine.
The bad news is I had forgotten my camera and didn't take photos of Lady Budd's Basted Eggs, which were beautiful as the Montana sunrise. The good news is, once I returned home, I tried the basted eggs technique for myself, and came up with another version for you to see and try. There are endless possibilities once you learn this technique. It's perfect for those what's-in-the-fridge mornings. Have fun with it. Thanks for the inspiration Lady Budd!
Basted Eggs over Sausage and Peppers
(serves 2 on its own, or 4 with a side of grits and toast)
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
2 large links chicken-apple sausage, diced (I like Aidell's)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives or green onion, for garnish
1/3 cup fresh diced tomato, for garnish
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
First make sure you have a medium-large skillet with a TIGHT FITTING LID. Place over medium-high heat and add butter and olive oil. When butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and sausage to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the onions have begun to soften and the mix is really talking to you (SIZZLE SIZZLE SIZZLE!). Add the peppers and continue to cook until the mixture is beginning to brown in spots. Taste and season the mixture with salt, pepper, and cayenne if desired.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Make sure the hash is in a nice even layer before sprinkling on the cheese. Immediately crack the eggs onto the hash, and cover with a tight fitting lid.
See all that steam? That's what's going to cook your eggs. At this point the pan should still be talking to you, but more quietly (sizzle...sizzle...sizzle...). If it's too loud, reduce your heat. Be patient with this part, so you don't burn the bottom. The eggs can take a while to reach the desired degree of doneness. Mine took about 12 minutes. Go ahead, take a quick peek, but put the lid right back on to keep all that hot steam in. Test the eggs by touching the yolk for firmness. Don't be shy. The sunny-looking eggs might appear "easy", even when they're hard.
Once the eggs have reached your preferred state. remove from heat, and sprinkle with chives and diced tomato. Use a spatula to scoop portions from pan to plate. Enjoy!