Onions and eggs. What a fabulous combination. This recipe is more about the technique, I mean, onions, eggs and butter. What’s the big deal? Well, the secret is in the cooking of the onions. In recipe after recipe you will see directions that read something like this: “Sauté onions 5-10 minutes until they carmelize.” Baloney. Onions are hardy little busters. They don’t even begin to carmelize for 20 minutes. In a good French Onion Soup, you cook them slowly in butter and oil for nearly an hour to produce the deep nut brown that is characteristic of a good brew. Now I don’t suggest you cook these onions for an hour, because it is Sunday morning and everyone is hungry. But you need to sauté them slowly for at the very least 20 minutes. If you can manage half an hour, so much the better. As the natural sugars in the onions carmelize, they become tender and sweet. You can use a slightly higher heat, but you must tend them carefully to make sure they don’t burn or get crispy. You are going for a golden brown, soft and translucent result. The longer you cook them the better they get.
Allow two large eggs and half an onion per person. I know that sounds like a lot of onion, but once it cooks down, it is the perfect amount. Cook the eggs over low heat as that produces a tender result. High heat toughens proteins, and tough eggs are the very last thing we are going for.
This recipe is so versatile. Once you have cooked your onions, before adding the eggs, you can customize this with nearly anything: Add fresh spinach, throw in some sliced mushrooms, diced red peppers, a bit of minced serranos, or any leftover cooked vegetables you may have lurking in the fridge. You can add some lox to create the classic LEO, Lox, Eggs and Onions. However, the basic Onion Egg, served with some nice toast and jam, makes for a comforting Sunday breakfast. If you are going wild with the additions, add another egg to help hold it together.
Onion Egg – Prep time 5 minutes. cooking time 25 minutes. Serves 2
One large onion, diced
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
Melt butter in a heavy frying pan. When it starts to bubble, add the diced onions and toss to coat.
Saute over medium heat for 20-30 minutes turning frequently. I have a special “onion egg” spatula, an ancient nylon paddle that I use to scrape the browned bits off the bottom while I am cooking the onions to help incorporate the color and caramel into the final result. Cook until they are golden brown, translucent and tender
While the onions are cooking, break the eggs into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until well blended. Do not use a whisk. Christopher Kimball, author of The Science of Cooking says you shouldn’t beat eggs more than 80 strokes. Over beating tends to toughen the eggs when they cook. I haven’t read the book, but it looks good, and his science makes perfect sense.
When the onions are nicely golden brown, add any other ingredients you are using. Here I am adding some left-over green cauliflower from last night’s dinner. Cook for another few minutes to warm the vegetables, or if you are using spinach or fresh mushrooms, cook for 5-10 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms are browned. If you are going for classic Onion Egg, now’s the time for the eggs.
Reduce heat to low and pour in the eggs. Scrape from the sides towards the center to gathering the cooked eggs in the middle of the pan so the uncooked eggs have a chance to escape to the edges to cook.
Continue cooking over low heat, turning the eggs in sections until they reach your preferred doneness. I like them done on the outside and a little creamy in the center, but you can continue cooking and turning them until they are exactly as you like them.
Turn onto warm plates and serve immediately. This is another one of those recipes that take much longer to prepare than it does to eat.