“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.”
— M.F.K. Fisher
I was recently gifted with a bevy of fresh home-raised eggs from my pal Laura Colgate. I refer to her only as Colgate, for reasons too lengthy to dwell on here. Suffice it to say she always sits at the head of the table and she never rides shotgun. The eggs arrived in a bowl with suggestions penned in silver. Quite clever that Colgate, she had the name of a different preparation on each one: Deviled, poached, fried, huevos ranchero, and benedict. I chose the classic omelet.
What is the definition of an omelet? For that I went first to Escoffier:
“Scrambled eggs enclosed in a coating of coagulated egg.” Appetizing? Mais non!
Next I consulted Harold McGee from his tome On Food and Cooking:
“Omelette, the standard French…comes ultimately from the Latin lamella, ‘thin plate.’ The volume of the eggs and the pan diameter should be balanced so that he mix forms a relatively thin layer; otherwise the scrambled mess will take too long to cook and be hard to hold together.”
Enough research. Time to get cooking!
Non-stick pan, silicone spatula, butter, salt, pepper and three of Colgate’s eggs. I carefully cracked the eggs on a flat surface (much better results than on an edge) and slipped them gently into a bowl. I debated adding milk and thought about some melting some cheese, but I all I really wanted was to taste the eggs themselves. The hen had made them for me only twenty four hours earlier and I wanted to honor her effort.
I added the beaten eggs to my buttered eight inch skillet. Using the technique I have seen so often at hotel brunch buffets, once the eggs were setting along the edge, I loosened them with my spatula. Moments later I gently folded the omelet in half with reasonable success. Off with the heat and onto a warmed plate. I waited a few minutes for the eggs to set and dove in. Delicious.
For the last few bites a added a dash of truffle salt. Double delicious.
Then my mind started wandering again. There was no carton to consult. How long will they be good to eat?
More research. This time the USDA’s website:
“After the eggs reach home, they may be refrigerated 3 to 5 weeks from the day they are placed in the refrigerator. The “sell-by” date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use.”
I must admit, I used to throw out eggs on the the expiration date. It always seemed wasteful but I feared salmonella and other nasties.
I may have to resort to store bought eggs again soon, and I may keep them in my refrigerator much longer than I used to, then again……can I can ever go back? I am looking into egg cooperatives. Sourcing local farmers. Even considering begging Colgate for more.
After all, she’s the egg-spert.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee
Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire: The First Complete Translation into English