As Easter and Passover converge this week, we are reminded that eggs possess religious symbolism and significance. They're also spectacular grilled or smoked.
"Eggs are meant for smoking," observes Rene Redzepi. Yes, that Redzepi--chef-owner of Denmark's celebrated Noma--named World's Best Restaurant three out of the past four years by San Pellegrino. The accomplishment is all the more remarkable for the fact that the kitchen uses only ingredients found within a 50 kilometer (a little over 30 miles) radius of Copenhagen. On a visit to Noma last April, I enjoyed quail eggs smoked with birch wood and hay and lightly pickled with rosehip vinegar.
So how do you grill or smoke an egg? Let me count the ways.
- Grilled: Place the raw egg in its shell on the grate over a gentle fire. Grill, turning with tongs, until the egg is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (It's sort of like hard-boiling, but without the water.) In Vietnam, they roast eggs in the shell in this manner, then serve them peeled, quartered, and wrapped in lettuce leaves with chiles, mint, and bean sprouts. (See page 90 in The Barbecue! Bible.)
- Hot smoked: Hard cook the eggs for 11 minutes (at sea level; a little longer if you live at high altitude). Peel and chill. Set up your smoker following the manufacturer's instructions and preheat to 225 degrees. Smoke the eggs until smoke-scented and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. (Don't over-heat or over-smoke or the egg whites will become rubbery.) That's how they smoke eggs at the Auberge Schulamet in the artist town of Rosh Pina, Israel, where smoked eggs are chopped into what may be best egg pate (salad) you'll ever serve with grilled bread. (See page 13 in Planet Barbecue!)
Smoke and fire take eggs in gustatory directions you've never dreamed of. Hard-boiled egg? OK. Smoked hard-boiled egg? Awesome.
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Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Primal Grill on PBS. His web site is BarbecueBible.com.