Lauraine Jacobs: Why eggs are a cracking ingredient

by Lauraine Jacobs / 03 October, 2013

The best ham and egg sandwiches you’ve ever had? You be the judge.

The egg is a pantry staple around the world. “If there’s an egg in the house, there’s a meal in the house”, as the saying goes. When it comes to quickly prepared meals with eggs, omelettes, frittatas and poached eggs on toast are among the myriad options that come to mind.

Eggs don’t need to be refrigerated if you’re going to use them within a week or two of purchase. In fact, room-temperature eggs are better for baking, as cold eggs do not whip up quite as thickly or easily.

To test for freshness, fill a bowl with cool water and carefully submerge the egg. Really fresh eggs will remain on the bottom, whereas eggs aged between one and three weeks will stand upright on the bottom. Older eggs will float, because the air sac has increased in size and become proportionally larger. They should probably be discarded.

Read more: Searching for the perfect Croque-Monsieur | Auckland's best cafes 2018

Eggs are a perfect and economical ingredient for finger food. If there’s a crowd for drinks, the most popular accompaniment is always the plate of sandwiches – either asparagus rolls or traditional ham and egg. Once cut and laid on a plate, the sandwiches can be kept moist and fresh by tightly covering them with plastic wrap, then wrapping with a clean wet tea towel.

The sandwiches can be refrigerated, but bring them back to room temperature before serving. I often make sandwiches like this up to 12 hours ahead.

These may be the best ham and egg sandwiches you’ve ever had: half the sandwich is layered with ham and mustard and the other has a delicious savoury egg mixture.

Ham and egg sandwiches

6 free-range eggs
1 tsp mustard powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Best Foods brand)
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 loaf thin-cut white sandwich bread
2 tbsp dijon-style mustard
300g shaved free-range ham

Place the eggs in rapidly boiling water to cook for 7-8 minutes. Remove, then plunge into ice-cold water to cool rapidly.

Peel the eggs and place in a bowl. Break them into small pieces with a potato masher. Add the mustard powder, salt and pepper, 4-5 tablespoons of mayonnaise and the parsley and mix well. Spread the mixture into over 7 slices of bread. Top each with a second slice, then lightly spread the top side with mustard. Divide the ham into 7 portions, then place on top of the mustard-spread slices. Finally, spread 7 slices of bread with mayonnaise and press lightly onto the ham.

Cut off the crusts with a sharp knife, then cut each sandwich into 3 fingers and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap, then with a wet tea towel until ready to serve.

Makes 21 sandwiches.

Devilled eggs

6 free-range eggs
1 tbsp curry powder
5 tinned anchovy fillets
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander or chervil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
smoked paprika for garnish

Bring a saucepan of water to a rapid boil, then add the eggs. Simmer for 8-9 minutes, then chill the eggs rapidly in cold water.

Once the eggs are cold, peel them carefully, then cut each in half. Keep the whites in ice-cold water while you make the filling.

Place the yolks in a food processor with the curry powder, anchovies, mayonnaise, herbs and salt and pepper. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.

If you have a piping bag, fill it with the mixture and pipe filling into each egg half. Otherwise, carefully press a large teaspoonful of egg mixture into the hollow in each egg half.

Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika and arrange neatly on a plate.

Makes 12 stuffed eggs.

Oven-baked scotch eggs

7 small free-range eggs
4 tbsp flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g dukkah (a nutty crumb mix available in most supermarkets)
500g pork sausages
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (optional)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then add 6 eggs, reduce the water to a simmer and cook for 8-9 minutes. Remove the eggs and place in ice-cold water to cool. Peel and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl or on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Break the remaining egg into a second bowl and beat lightly. Place the dukkah in a third bowl or on a plate and line up the containers in a row: flour, egg, dukkah.

Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into another bowl. Mix through the thyme and parsley with a fork.

To assemble the eggs, divide the sausage mixture into 6. Flatten each portion of sausage meat into an oval shape with wet hands, then wrap each piece around an egg, pinching it together at the seam. Toss the coated egg around in your hands to ensure it is completely covered with meat. Dredge the egg lightly in flour, tapping off any excess. Then dip each covered egg in beaten egg, coating well, before rolling them in dukkah.

Arrange the eggs on the baking tray, then place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the coating is crisp and the sausage meat is cooked through and firm. Eat the eggs warm or at room temperature with spicy tomato sauce.

Makes 6.

For more great recipes and ideas, visit Food To Love.

Photography by Liz Clarkson; styling by Arnuthnot


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