Meringue “Nest,” or, “Deconstructed Scrambled Eggs”
June 8, 2012
I’m back: with a brand new invention. Seriously. Because as far as I know, this is a totally new presentation of the familiar, delicious, ever-popular egg. Fundamentally, all we’re doing is scrambling the yolk and the white separately, cooking them separately, and then recombining them, but the result is something pretty interesting. It offers a nice interplay of textures, visual appeal, and that added fun of “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before!”
Like a lot of my recipes, this is really a technique that you can dress up in a variety of ways depending on your taste. So, I’ll outline the basic idea, then describe some ideas for variations.
2 eggs per serving
things to go with eggs (whatever you like in an omelet)
Heat the oven 325. Find a medium-sized, oven-safe bowl for each serving, and grease them liberally with butter. Gather two eggs for each serving, and separate the eggs (yolks into one bowl, whites into another). When separating the eggs, it is best to use metal or glass bowls (not plastic!) and to be meticulous about keeping the egg whites free of yolk. The reason for this is that we’ll be beating the egg whites until stiff, and fat impedes the process of whipping the egg whites. Yolks contain fat, so watch out for stray bits of yolk (if you break the yolk when cracking the egg, set the egg aside for something else and get a new one. Also, plastic bowls can retain fat in their pores from previous uses, and thus are not well suited to beating egg whites. Once the eggs are separated, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This can be done with a hand whisk or an electric mixer, and it will take some time. Now, working quickly with a clean spoon, transfer the egg whites to the oven-safe bowls in equal sized portions. Shape the egg whites so that they are bowl-shaped, with a hollow in the center. Put them in the oven and set a time for about 18 minutes (more for a stiffer, crunchier meringue, less for a softer meringue). While the whites are cooking, season the yolks with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you want, and scramble them, but don’t cook them yet. When the times goes off, add a little butter to a pan, melt it over medium-low heat, and then cook the egg yolk mixture until done then remove from heat. Take the meringues out of the oven and spoon equal servings of egg yolk into the hollow space in the center of the meringue. Voila!
This dish is as versatile as scrambled eggs, really; its possibilities are limited only by your imagination. For instance, if you add a bit of pulled pork or pulled chicken to the hollow, it gives a much stronger sense of that brambly bird’s nest look while adding a nice protein boost. Here is a version with (in ascending order) pulled chicken, guacamole, egg yolk, and chopped tomato which add a bright, colorful look to the dish while rounding it out nutritionally as well:
You can also try pouring a red wine-shallot reduction over the top (as in the cover picture). Sauteed vegetables, bacon, smoked peppers, or a squeeze of citrus all add to savory versions. For a sort of “inside out deviled egg” you can add dry mustard and paprika to the whites when you whip them, and then stuff them with the yolk. For a sweeter take, try filling the hollow with whipped cream and berries, and finally, for those who love a runny yolk, try poaching the yolks instead of scrambling them (room temp egg yolk, an inch or so of barely simmering, lightly salted water, add the yolk for 40 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon). This adds a nice interactive component – breaking the egg yolk and letting it run into the spongy meringue mimics the satisfaction of something like eggs benedict in a much healthier, Primal-friendly way. One final thought: these can be made in very small ramekins for use as an appetizer. Buon appetito!