Baltimore-area chefs share cool, creative uses for eggs

Eggs can do it all. Equally at home as breakfast on the go or as the centerpiece of an elegant dinner, it's no wonder that the simple ingredient holds a special place in chefs' hearts. Here, four local chefs share their favorite egg preparations, ranging from a simple crab omelet to delicate, sophisticated croquettes.

Egg Yolk Croquettes with Bacon, Comte & Truffle
Yields 6 servings

In the Lord Baltimore Hotel's restaurant, The French Kitchen, Chef Jordan Miller experiments with high-tech toys, turning out dishes that combine ambition with great flavor — such as these carefully constructed croquettes in heady cheese-truffle-bacon sauce.

It should come as little surprise, then, that this recipe requires specialized equipment, including an iSi professional cream whipper and nitrous oxide canisters, and unusual ingredients, including xanthan gum and carrageenan, as thickening agents. These items can be purchased at specialty food and kitchen goods stores and online at sources like amazon.com.

Croquettes:

6 large organic egg yolks
3-4 cups canola oil for frying
2 large organic eggs
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3/4 cup regular bread crumbs
About 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, cleaned from the stems, to taste
1 cup rice flour

1. Fill a wide, shallow pot with water, set over high heat and bring to 148 degrees Fahrenheit (64 degrees Celsius). You can regulate the cooking temperature of the water using a digital thermometer or use an immersion circulator cooking bath. Place the egg yolks in the water and cook, maintaining the temperature, for 45 minutes.
2. Once the egg yolks are fully cooked, transfer them to a bowl filled with room-temperature water, to cool.
3. In a pan over high heat, heat the canola oil (enough to cover the croquettes) to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the two whole eggs in a small bowl.
5. In a separate bowl, combine the panko, regular bread crumbs and fresh thyme.
6. Fill a third bowl with the rice flour.
7. Remove the cooked egg yolks from the bath with a slotted spoon and let drain.
8. One at a time, place the yolks first into the bowl with the rice, completely coating the yolks until they are dry.
9. Next, place the flour-dredged yolks into the bowl with the beaten eggs and completely submerge.
10. Finally, place the egg-battered yolks in the panko-bread crumb mixture.
11. Fry the croquettes in the canola oil until golden brown, about 45 seconds to one minute.
12. Drain croquettes on paper towels.

Cheese and bacon sauce:

About 1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup bacon trimmings
2 1/2 ounces grated Gruyère de Comté cheese
1 1/4 grams (about 1/4 teaspoon) xanthan gum
2 1/2 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) carrageenan
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Truffle salt to taste
Drizzle of truffle oil
Fresh chopped chives to garnish

1. Place the chicken stock in a small pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add the bacon trimmings to the stock and turn down the heat, allowing the mixture to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Using a whisk or immersion blender, blend the grated Gruyère into the stock.
4. Add the xanthan gum, carrageenan and lemon juice into the mixture, whisking or blending vigorously to hydrate the xanthan gum and carrageenan.
5. Season the mixture with salt.
6. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
7. Pour the hot cheese mixture into an iSi canister and charge with two nitrous oxide canisters. Shake vigorously.
8. Whip the cheese sauce onto the plate, and place the egg yolk croquette on top.
9. Season with truffle salt, truffle oil and fresh chives.

Irish Bibimbap
Yields 1 serving

Slainte, the much-loved Fells Point pub, is known for its Irish breakfast. Chef Chris Marquis takes a global look at the most important meal of the day, adding Irish ingredients like corned beef to bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish of egg and rice.

Pickled Cabbage:

1 head green cabbage, shredded (purple cabbage and/or additional shredded carrots can also add fun color)
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon peppercorns
4 or 5 bay leaves

1. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Pour the boiling liquid over the cabbage. Bring to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least four hours (but best overnight).

Bibimbap:

About 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
1/2 cup cooked corned beef, chopped (preferably cooked from scratch)
1 cup mixed vegetables, such as zucchini, squash, peppers, red onion and carrots, chopped or cut into small slices of similar sizes
1/4 cup pickled cabbage
1 egg
Sriracha to drizzle
Chopped spring onions to garnish

1. Place two sauté pans over medium-high heat. Add one to two tablespoons of olive oil to each.
2. Add rice to one pan. Do not stir; the rice should stay in place so it develops a crust.
3. Add the corned beef to the other pan. Sauté for one minute.
4. Add the vegetables to the corned beef and sauté until the veggies are just cooked through, about six to eight minutes.
5. Put the rice in a bowl, and place the pan back on the stove, still over medium-high heat.
6. In the rice pan, cook the egg until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny, about three minutes (or longer, depending on your taste).
7. To assemble, just throw the veggie and corned beef mixture over the rice, topped with pickled cabbage, the sunny-side-up egg and spring onions. Garnish with drizzled Sriracha if you like spicy.

Chesapeake Bay Omelet
Yields 1 omelet

At Duesenberg's American Café and Grill in Catonsville, diners go crazy over owner Gary Teegardin's Chesapeake Bay omelet. The combination of crab, tomatoes, Old Bay and eggs is simple enough for even novice home cooks and — thanks to high-quality ingredients — it's a reliable crowd-pleaser.

2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
About 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup colossal lump crabmeat, picked through to remove shells
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. In a heavy 10-inch, nonstick pan over medium heat, melt butter.
2. In a bowl, beat the eggs until slightly frothy. Add Old Bay, and continue to beat until evenly distributed. Stir in chopped tomatoes.
3. When butter is melted, pour the eggs into the pan.
4. Sprinkle crabmeat over the eggs. Cook until eggs have just set on the bottom, about three minutes.
5. Flip entire omelet.
6. Sprinkle cheese over eggs.
7. Using a spatula, lift one side of the omelet to carefully fold it in half.
8. Continue cooking until eggs are cooked through, about three minutes.

Sweet Potato Polenta with Poached Eggs,Sautéed Vegetables and Balsamic Reduction
Yields 4 servings

Chef Sean Guy, chef/owner of Water for Chocolate in Butchers Hill, spins traditional comfort food flavors into sophisticated — but hearty — dishes. Here, sweet potato polenta, drizzled with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, becomes the base for a delicate poached egg.

Polenta:

1 large sweet potato
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups dry polenta

1. Heat a pot of water over high heat until boiling. Cut the sweet potato into thirds and boil until fork-tender and the skin is easily removed (about 20 minutes). Remove skin from potato.
2. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the half-and-half, stock, butter and sugar to a boil.
3. Whisk the skinless sweet potato into the boiling mixture.
4. Once thoroughly blended, whisk in the polenta. Continue to whisk until the mixture is firm enough to spread on a baking sheet, using a spatula.
5. Refrigerate until cool. Cut into 2-inch-by-2-inch squares.

Sauteed Vegetables:

1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 can whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Julienne squash, zucchini and eggplant.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, corn and steak seasoning and sauté until mushrooms are slightly dehydrated, about eight minutes.
3. Add the julienned strips of squash, zucchini and eggplant to the mixture.
4. Sauté until the vegetables are al dente, about five minutes.
5. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
6. Add the balsamic vinegar, and deglaze the pan. Turn the heat down to low, and reduce liquid by about one-half.

Composed Dish:

1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 squares polenta
2 cups raw spinach
4 eggs
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
Sautéed vegetables

Balsamic Reduction:

1. Fill a wide, shallow pan about two-thirds full with water. Add the white vinegar and, over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer.
2. At the same time, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté eight polenta squares until they are crispy on the outside, about one to two minutes per side.
3. Place two polenta squares on each of four plates.
4. On each plate, place 1/2 cup raw spinach in the center of the polenta squares.
5. Poach the eggs in the simmering water for about one and a half to two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
6. Place one poached egg on the bed of spinach on each plate.
7. Top with a scoop of cooked vegetables.
8. Crumble about 1/4 cup of goat cheese over each plate.
9. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

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