One of the best things I ate while in 2008 was breakfast with Mike and Kathleen in Paris. Kat soft-boiled eggs we’d bought at the market on Rue Montorgeuil and then poured the barely-set white and warm yolk, the color of marigolds, over hunks of day-old Poilâne bread. With salt and pepper and a cup of coffee, that simple breakfast in the teeny kitchen has been permanently stamped into my brain.
I’ve tried to recreate the moment many times in my own kitchen. I’ve used different kinds of bread, starting with a whole wheat bagel and moving through the spectrum before lately settling on Dave’s Killer Blues Bread, what I call ‘twig bread’, because it’s so full of extra goodies that it seems like it was scraped off the forest floor. I’ve added pork products, too, because everything is better with bacon. And depending on what I’ve got, either chives or shallot.
It’s remarkably simple and delicious and as breakfasts go, it keeps hunger away until lunch time. A dozen eggs, plus a loaf of bread will feed you longer than a box of cereal and half-gallon of milk, for less money. Milk: $3.59 Cereal:$ 3.89 divided by 7 servings = $1.06. Blues bread: $5.59 Eggs: $3.49 divided by 12 =$ .76 per. Subtract the strong meh factor of boxed cereal, multiplied by the warm fuzzies from feeding your soul.
And you’re supporting your local farmer and baker. Seriously, it’s toast and eggs with a little extra love- it’s five minutes. So much more payoff than cereal.
I make it two or three times week, and I think it’s as much because of the taste as the challenge because serious business of the perfectly soft-cooked egg is elusive. The water has to be almost but not quite at a simmer- if the water is too hot, the egg bounces around and maybe cracks and the white hardens but the yolk is untouched or starting to cake. The water surface must be just at the edge of moving, but not yet. I had it perfected and then switched egg brands, and the shells were thicker so the yolk was barely warmed and there was still a bit of raw yolk. Sometimes you have to use The Force to determine if your egg is done correctly. The only way to get it right consistently is like everything else worthwhile in life- practice.
Then comes the next part, whacking off the end of the egg to scoop out the goodness with a tiny spoon- this moment is rife with potential for getting shell into your breakfast. But Twig Bread disguises a little extra crunch and women need a little more calcium.
A friend raised a pig and gave me a Christmas gift of pork- one of the best gifts ever. So this morning, with fresh bacon (uncured, so we’ll just call it pork belly), with the perfectly cooked egg on toasted multi-grain, a couple chopped chives and I splurged and added a glug of Round Pond Olive Oil, it was that rare moment of perfection.
Now for the disclaimer, to keep the lawyer happy: be advised that consuming undercooked egg can potentially make you sick, specifically with salmonella. “Undercooked” as defined by the FDA is anything less than a 160° internal temperature, as indicated by a thermometer. Quickie lesson in egg anatomy: eggs start to coagulate at about 150°, so if you cook a yolk to 160 °, then you’re not ‘soft-cooking’, you’re ‘hard cooking’ and that egg is suitable for only two things: potato salad and Easter Eggs.
According to a 2002 study, it’s only one in every 30,000 eggs. I did the math- if you eat one egg every day for 82 years, you might get sick. So you’ve got more chance setting yourself on fire using your gas burner, and you’re still using that every day, aren’t you?