Food & Drink Brilliant brunch recipes from hash brown buns to 'nduja...

Brilliant brunch recipes from hash brown buns to 'nduja poached eggs

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There are few foods whose form can be so radically transformed by slight variations to how they’re prepared; few so at home in virtually every national cuisine; few so easily personalised, or so speedy to cook. I hope you agree – for I am an ovophile, but I know I’m not alone in enjoying them.

Tips for good eggs

Storage

Eggs remain ‘good’ for longer if stored in a cool, dry place, with minimal movement. For most people that means the fridge (but not in the door). But in countries where salmonella has been eradicated at source (such as the UK), it is perfectly safe to keep them outside the fridge.

Freshness

An eggshell is porous. Over time, water content in the albumen reduces, proteins break down and air fills the space. Meanwhile, the yolk absorbs water from the albumen, so it will be more likely to break. It takes a fairly long time before an egg is inedible, but the freshness is relevant to how you choose to cook and eat it. Use-by dates are a reasonable indication, but the best way to determine an egg’s freshness is to pop it in a glass of water. The fresher the egg, the smaller the air pocket, the less it floats.

If poaching for a group

In advance, fill a bowl with iced water. Poach the eggs in batches, taking them out closer to two than three minutes, as soon as the whites appear set. Transfer to the iced water and refrigerate until required. When ready to eat, heat a large saucepan of water to just below a gentle simmer. Transfer the eggs for 30 to 60 seconds, dab dry on kitchen paper and serve.

When frying

A neutral cooking oil (sunflower or vegetable/rapeseed) has a high smoke point, so it can get really hot and encourage a crispy skirt. An egg frying in butter putters but ends up mellow and gentle at the edges. The right amount is when there’s a couple of teaspoons of excess, foaming butter for basting. Olive oil provides a pleasing flavour and a hint of crispness; pork fat or beef dripping make for a rough-looking egg, imparting a meatiness.

The recipes

Extracted from Good Eggs by Ed Smith (Quadrille, £22)

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