Amanda & Merrill

Steamed Scrambled Eggs with Prosciutto Breadcrumbs

May 21, 2010

Steamed Scrambled Eggs with Prosciutto Breadcrumbs

- Amanda

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?

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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

Serves 4

  • 3 slices prosciutto
  • One 1/2-inch thick slice day-old country bread
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • Salt
  • 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.


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Oui, C. May 26, 2010
I've got such a sucky little steamer on my espresso machine, that I'm not sure I can get this to work properly, but it sounds so good, that I am definitely gonna give it a try. I am tasting some of Carmellini's "Crumbs-Yo!" on top of this dish....I put them on EVERYTHING these days. Thanks for the great recipe. - S
Amanda H. July 31, 2010
Catching up on comments, as you can see. Glad you liked the crumbs!
CheeseLovah May 23, 2010
Amanda, how can I save this recipe to my recipe box? I don't see the option on the screen.
Amanda H. May 23, 2010
We'll be adding the recipe to the regular recipe database this week and then you can save it -- sorry for the inefficiency. Still working things out!
liamoran May 23, 2010
I learned how to steam eggs a few months ago and I haven’t looked back since. My favorite way to prepare them is with a little butter, a splash of whole milk and topped with truffle salt. It is a decadent treat and impressed my mom (who’s an amazing cook!) on Mother’s Day. I steam eggs more than I steam milk in my espresso machine.
Amanda H. May 23, 2010
A-ha! Truffle salt. Wish I'd thought of that.
Savorykitchen May 23, 2010
Ok - buzzkill question: how hard is it to clean the steamer wand off? I just don't want my cappuccino to taste like an omelet, no matter how amazing the eggs. :-)
Amanda H. May 23, 2010
Great question -- I wondered the same thing. If you do it right away, it's actually easier than cleaning milk off.
Nancie M. May 23, 2010
Amazing! And me completely out of eggs, at noon on a Sunday. I will do this --- adore the notion of seeking to create an effect I've spent so much of my cooking life strenuously avoiding. That is, causing eggs to set/curd up in hot liquid. All that careful tempering, and here we are letting loose, going right in after that very effect. Wonderful; and the following recipe for egg and rice soup looks divine. My hunch is that Asian sesame oil would be a worthy companion for these poached eggs. Espresso machine-scrambled eggs remind me of San Diego's wonderful Pannikin Coffee; one of their fine breakfast offerings, with salsa and English muffin and great coffee on the side.
Amanda H. May 23, 2010
Yeah, I think sesame oil would go very well. The texture of the steamed eggs is not unlike a Japanese omelet.
Allison C. May 22, 2010
Wow, this takes me way back to 1987. Right out of high school, I worked for a while in a great little place called Atticus Bookstore Cafe in Westport, CT. It was very unique at the time, though it closed not long after. I ran the espresso bar there. On weekends we made scrambled eggs this way, and it was a real revelation to me at the time. I was 18 years old, and this just busted wide open my too-green assumptions about how we "have" to cook (or use tools) by the manual. I think of the cafe often enough, since actually I still have a pair of coffee mugs that I inherited when they were going out of business... but for some reason I tend to forget about the eggs. Thanks for reminding me. (Word to the wise: make sure to clean off the steam spigot right away--saves a harder job later.)
Amanda H. May 23, 2010
Maybe Atticus pioneered this technique? Would be fun to trace its history.
amysarah May 22, 2010
I've read about doing eggs in a milk steamer before, but never tried - you've inspired me to dig out my old rig (a wedding gift from many moons ago, before the barista on every corner made me lazy) and try it. Also gives me an idea - we grow red/yellow bell peppers in the summer, so usually have a dish of roasted or grilled ones, marinating in olive oil (depending on use, often garlic too.) A standard weekend breakfast/brunch is a sort of bruschetta - any kind of crusty Italian bread browned in oven , topped with some of the peppers, a bit of anchovy, topped with a fried or scrambled egg...I think the steamed eggs would be great here - the texture contrast from crunchy bread to the light fluffy eggs. Also, prosciutto would be a good alternate way to add that salty note for the sadly anchoviphobic.
Amanda H. May 22, 2010
Love that that's your standard weekend breakfast -- sounds like everyone eats well in your house.
monkeymom May 21, 2010
Porky breadcrumbs were a big hit at dinner 4 year old kept spooning them on! I one-up'd it and added some bacon fat. Tossed over a spring carbonara pasta with asparagus and green garlic. Thank you for the inspiration!
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Great sounding dish -- maybe something we can expect to see on the site sometime....?
nannydeb May 21, 2010
This will be breakfst tomorrow! And those breadcrumbs would be good on Au Gratin potatoes too!
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Like that idea -- enjoy.
mariaraynal May 21, 2010
Prosciutto crumbs! Steamed eggs! So smart. Love these restaurant dish makeover pieces.
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Thanks -- the prosciutto crumbs were a last minute idea. Now I want to eat them by the spoonful.
MrsWheelbarrow May 21, 2010
I'm going to rename the coffee machine the breakfast maker. If the porky crumbs could be whizzed in the bean grinder, it becomes the only tool needed on an (electrified) desert island.
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Reminds me of an appliance I have from the 1940s -- it's called The Delineator, and has one level for cooking bacon, another for toasting bread and one on the top for frying eggs. Somehow never made it to the mainstream....
dymnyno May 21, 2010
It's fun when you can reference over a piece of equipment to make something so easy. Next, someone will market a steamer just for cooking eggs!
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Yes like that little milk frother wand -- just a heated version!
mrslarkin May 21, 2010
The eggs sound good. Don't have a steamer, tho love learning about alternate uses for kitchen equipment (i.e. this, the wok/smoker...) But those breadcrumbs! I'm fantasizing about all the possibilities....
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Yes -- would be fun to try a carbonara with the prosciutto breadcrumbs as a topping.
FamilyStyle F. May 21, 2010
Porky breadcrumbs! A brilliant idea, can't wait to try that. But too bad for me, no milk steamer in my kitchen, alas.
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Try Daniel Patterson's eggs -- you can do them on the stovetop. Enjoy!
FortWorthGuy May 21, 2010
I am very intregued by the breadcrumb recipe....will try this out for sure. You can use it wherever breadcrumbs are called for, right?
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Sure, and even when they're not called for.
gluttonforlife May 21, 2010
Looks fantastic, Amanda, but I don't drink coffee and thus have no espresso machine. Guess I'll investigate the poaching method...
Amanda H. May 21, 2010
Let me know if you try it. You have to drain them well -- cool texture, I love them.