Eggs are going through a bit of an image crisis right now. Although the egg recall is making consumers wary of salmonella, eggs remain healthy, inexpensive, and versatile. So, don’t let this current scare deter you; instead, read our tips to enjoy eggs safely for years to come:
1. Examine The Carton
Here’s what you need to know:
a. Color: The color of the egg does not indicate quality. A brown egg comes from a brown chicken; a white egg from a white chicken.
b. Labeling: You have lots of choices, like free range, omega-3, hormone-free, and vegetarian-fed. I’m a big proponent of buying locally, which implies small farms are raising those chickens, rather than large industrial farms that are more prone to unchecked violations. But, if you’re not near your farmer’s market, organic is the way to go. Chickens raised organically are treated humanely and meet strictly enforced regulations. According to the USDA, “Less than 1% of chickens are raised in accordance with these standards.” So, be sure to check your labels carefully.
c. Date: Notice the expiration date on the carton. Eggs have long “freshness horizons,” but remember that their shells are porous. Eggs stored next to odorous foods become “aromatic” eggs. Not good.
d. Condition: Be sure to check inside the carton, too! Cracked eggs are dangerous to use. Choose a carton with pristine eggs.
2. I Prefer “Whole Foods” To Egg Substitutes
Like everything else, eggs should be enjoyed in moderation. Egg alternatives are simply pricey eggs with preservatives (with the exception of egg whites, which are just egg whites). A pint of organic egg substitute costs $7.39. Keep in mind that these packaged eggs are still vulnerable to salmonella. Speak to your doctor if he or she has recommended that you use boxed eggs to address high cholesterol, but otherwise, 30 years of research has failed to link egg consumption to heart disease.
3. Store Eggs Smartly
Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator, but not on the door, even though that’s where those cute egg holders are mounted. Perishables should be stored low and deep, where the air is colder. Try the bottom shelf near the rear of the fridge.
Eggs can be a meal by themselves, but they also compliment a multitude of foods: pasta, salads, sandwiches, even burgers and oatmeal! Here are some of my favorites:
Baked Eggs: Franny’s in Brooklyn posted a recipe for baked eggs (on page two of the newsletter) that has become one of my home staples. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and as a meal for two or 12.
Grilled Cheese with a Twist: When I have fresh mozzarella and prosciutto “scraps,” I make grilled cheese and ham with a fried egg. I melt the cheese on the bread open faced, and then add the ham and egg. Careful when you bite into this simple and delectable Sammie, as the egg yolk squirts!
Frittata: A “baked” omelet comes out fluffy and light. Be sure to use an oven-safe pan. Frittata fillings run the gamut: roasted peppers, spinach & goat cheese, basil, chicken, eggplant & mozzarella, steak, potato & cheddar. This is a great way to clean out your refrigerator’s leftovers!
Poached Egg with Spinach: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add some minced garlic when the oil is hot and 2 cups of spinach per person when the garlic starts to smell amazing. Season with salt and pepper. Put in a bowl and perch either one or two poached eggs upon the wilted greens. Sometimes I start with fennel or mushrooms and add tons of spinach to make this into a more substantial dish. Spinach, poached eggs, and potato pancakes also make a fierce combination.