Which came first—the chicken or the egg? As a chef, I would have to say the egg. A most versatile ingredient if there ever was one, you can bake, fry, poach, coddle, scramble and boil it. A perfect protein by itself that’s good anytime of the day, it’s also an integral part of baked goods, serving as a binder for the other ingredients. But how do you cook an egg so you can maximize its flavor potential? Here are three ways:
Poaching is one technique that most home cooks are intimidated by, but it’s quite easy. The first thing you need is a pot that can hold at least six inches of water. Bring water to a simmer without boiling, then add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Crack the egg and put it in a small bowl, then slowly slide the egg into the water. You will see the whites forming around the yolk. Depending on your preferred doneness, it will take between 5–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the egg. Place it on top of a burger, potatoes or even a salad—it makes a fantastic dressing.
Try it: Oeufs Benedict at Bouchon in The Venetian
If scrambled is more your speed, the most important tools to have are a nonstick pan and a high-heat spatula. Place the nonstick pan on low heat. Scramble three eggs in a bowl, making sure the yolks and the whites are well combined. When the pan is warm, add 4 tablespoons of butter. Yes, it’s a lot of butter, but butter and eggs together is a recipe for magic. Let the butter melt slowly, but don’t let it turn brown. Add the egg slowly and keep stirring with the spatula. The trick to perfect scrambled eggs is cooking low and slow to achieve that creamy texture. Right before it’s done, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Try it: Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken With Maple Reduction (and scrambled eggs) at Hash House a Go Go in The Linq Hotel & Casino
Perhaps the most versatile iteration is the fried egg, which goes well on just about anything, from a simple piece of toast to a burger. The secret is, once again, a good nonstick pan. On medium heat, add a teaspoon of oil or simply spray the pan. Crack that egg and drop it like it’s hot. As you watch the whites taking form, you will hear the sizzle and the crackle. The way to tell the egg is ready to be flipped is when it easily slides around the pan. So with a flick of your wrist, flip that egg and cook it to your desired doneness.
Try it: Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich at Eggslut in The Cosmopolitan
Doreen Chatfield is a classically educated chef who received her training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. She is a personal chef and caterer, and is currently the dietary director at Valley Hospital.