Eggs — a local food for any time

With all the talk of an economic meltdown it’s easy to consider locally produced food as a luxury that is for many beyond reach. The truth of the matter is fortunately far different — it’s possible to walk into almost any shop in Galway and find locally produced free range eggs.

Galway has a number of egg producers ranging from Galway free range eggs, Corrib eggs, Rockland eggs, and Piggott Pearse and Sons of Gort. Eggs are possibly the ultimate fast food and are considered a nutritionally whole food as all essential nutrients can be found in an egg. A freshly laid hen’s eggs simply boiled for three minutes and served with hot buttered toast is a feast fit for any person and any occasion. Also due to eggs containing a high proportion of protein a simple boiled egg is an excellent way to keep hunger at bay. Interestingly when it comes to boiling an egg the one rule to follow is not to let the egg boil, but rather allow the water simmer in a very gentle way.

The colour of an egg is totally irrelevant be the egg white, brown, or speckled. A bigger issue and a good reason to always eat your eggs as fresh as possible is because the carbon dioxide which is present in an egg when it is laid tends to diminish as the egg is stored. This increases alkalinity and can affect the protein of the egg. There are countless recipes and ways in which to cook eggs but I thought I’d keep things simple and explain some of the main ways in which to cook an egg.

To poach an egg

Bring a medium pot of water to boil, reduce the heat so there is no movement in the water. Add a dash of vinegar, the vinegar helps with coagulation and also cuts down on long stringy bits of egg white forming. Break the eggs into a small cup or container before you place them in the water — this will prevent any risk of the yolk breaking. Stir the water into a whirlpool just before adding the eggs and pour the eggs into the centre of the vortex — this will allow the egg to cook more evenly. Poach the eggs for around three minutes and serve straight away.

Frying eggs

The term frying eggs should be banned as to make perfectly fried eggs you really poach the eggs at around 90 degrees centigrade in a little butter. A good non-stick pan is essential. Also as the egg is cooking it’s a good idea to place a lid on the pan to produce steam and allow the egg cook more evenly.

Boiling eggs

The ultimate way of describing a poor cook is the saying ‘they can’t even boil an egg’. The one rule to follow is please make sure the water has come to the boil before you start timing the cookery of the egg. A soft boiled egg will take three minutes.

Scrambling eggs

Chefs have fought wars over the best way to scramble an egg. Break three eggs into a pot with a knob of butter and a little milk. Whisk well and place over a moderate heat, with a wooden spoon continuously stir the eggs until lightly scrambled, season, and serve.

Eggs en cocotte

Break the eggs into small egg sized dishes which have been lightly buttered, cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for five minutes approximately.

Text and photography by Michael O Meara

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