Last week, over lunch at Gottino with my New York Times editor, Christine, she encouraged me to try the house specialty: steamed scrambled eggs with prosciutto and toast. The name immediately brought to mind Daniel Patterson's brilliant poached scrambled eggs, in which beaten eggs are gently poached in water, then drained, to produce ethereal scrambled eggs. Steamed? Would they be better?
As most of the food at Gottino is prepared behind the bar, they don't bother the basement kitchen with an order for eggs, they simply steam them with the milk frother attached to the espresso machine.
The eggs come out fluffed like a featherbed and creamy around the edges -- a stiff competitor to Patterson's eggs. The silky strip of prosciutto and crusty bread are simply a perk.
Well, I had to try this at home. Late to the steamed scrambled egg "scoop," I found handy instructions from Jessica on Food Mayhem. The process is so easy that for anyone who's afraid to cook eggs, this should be your first foray. You simply beat the eggs with a little butter and salt and then steam them in a pitcher like you would milk. You can put the steamer on low or full blast -- it's up to your tolerance for risk. Either way, they're done in less than 2 minutes -- and do stop slightly before they look finished as, like scrambled eggs done mundanely in a pan, they'll keep cooking.
For the accompaniments, I went my own way. I crisped prosciutto and country bread in the oven, then pulverized them together in the food processor -- to create porky crumbs, a riff on the Sicilian breadcrumbs used to top pasta. And I made a tarragon oil, whizzed together in the food processor once the breadcrumbs had been tapped out.
Yes, it sounds like there are so many parts. But I was sitting down to eat in less than 20 minutes -- I called it dinner. Next time, I'm doing it for friends at brunch.
Steamed Scrambled Eggs with Prosciutto Breadcrumbs and Tarragon
- 3 slices prosciutto
- One 1/2-inch thick slice day-old country bread
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/4 olive oil
- 12 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay the prosciutto and country bread on a baking sheet. Bake until the prosciutto is crisp and the country bread is toasted and dry, 5 to 10 minutes (if one is done sooner than the other, remove it from the oven and set on a plate). Let cool, then grind to a powder in a food processor. Some of the bread may not break down; discard any large chunks. Now you have prosciutto breadcrumbs; try not to eat them all before the eggs are done.
2. Return the food processor bowl to the machine. Add the tarragon and oil and a pinch of salt and puree until the tarragon is finely chopped and emulsified with the oil.
3. Heat the steamer on your espresso machine. In a steamer pitcher, beat together 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon butter and a pinch of salt. Steam, as you would milk, until the eggs are "scrambled" to your liking. The eggs will continue cooking after you stop steaming so stop sooner than you think -- and don't expect them to come out perfectly the first time around. Steamed scrambled eggs take practice! Spoon the eggs into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a heaping teaspoon of prosciutto breadcrumbs and a teaspoon or two of tarragon oil. Repeat with the remaining eggs until you have 4 servings.