Nathalie Dupree: Protein-packed eggs tasty atop salads and pizzas
The egg has come back into its own. After near banishment in 1984, when the egg was falsely attributed with raising cholesterol, we are seeing its sunny face on menus from high-end eateries to pizza restaurants.
It came to my attention when I first went to Monza Pizzeria, 451 King St., after it first opened in 2007 and was greeted by the egg’s bright center and fluffy exterior on top of brick-oven grilled green asparagus, which already was tossed in oil and Parmigiana Reggiano cheese and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. I already knew asparagus with egg, but as a breakfast served to me in a small room overlooking the courtyard at Michel Guerard’s spa in France. That was in the late 1970s. Then came the egg’s undoing.
The vilification of the egg was such a tragedy, denigrating it as a source of good nutrition for families, that I testified on its behalf after it was misrepresented by a commercial product. Even the pricier free-range chickens proliferating our markets are marvelous sources of inexpensive protein, as well as bringing flavor incomparable to any other.
The ways of fixing eggs are indeed endless. Will Fincher, executive chef of the REV Group, and his team at Monza serve dozens of fresh eggs for lunch and dinner at the restaurant, adding them to pizzas as well as salads.
They primarily serve sunny-side-up eggs with soft white clouds and centers of bright orange and soft-boiled ones atop their wares, and do it to perfection. Their always fresh, free-range eggs help bring forth swoons from diners as the pierced yolk forms a sauce and runs over the asparagus and pizza. (Serving eggs on pizza is very typical in Normandy, France, where I first saw it.)
Soft-boiled eggs go atop the Caesar salad. Restaurants cook a bit differently than home cooks, but some of their tricks are handy indeed. They soft-boil their eggs ahead of time, peel them gently, and hold them refrigerated on ice until it is their moment to shine, and they are cracked open atop the greens.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 11 cookbooks, most recently “Southern Biscuits.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.