Creamed Eggs on Toast

I don’t remember when I first made creamed eggs on toast, but it was probably when we still living in Kentucky. We had bought Beard on Bread shortly after it was published in 1973, and the book got me interested in James Beard. He loved tarragon and, as I have mentioned elsewhere, he once said that “tarragon is the best friend a chicken ever had.”

I am sure that comment prompted me to try adding tarragon to béchemel sauce for creamed eggs. If tarragon was good for chicken, as I knew it was, it should be good for eggs too. And it is.

Béchemel sauce is one of the “mother” sauces in French cooking. Don’t let the name scare you. In English we call it a white sauce, and it’s a “mother” because it has many children, depending on what is added to it. For instance, many cream soups owe their velvety texture to a thin béchemel sauce. A medium sauce with Swiss cheese becomes sauce Mornay , and soufflés begin life as a thick béchemel sauce.

For creamed eggs, you make a medium white sauce flavored with tarragon, pepper, nutmeg and hot sauce. It is simple and delicious for breakfast or even a light lunch or supper.

INGREDIENTS:

4 large eggs
4 T butter
4 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. tarragon
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
A few drops of hot sauce
2 cups milk plus a little more if needed
Toast

PROCEDURE:

Cover four large eggs with cold water in a saucepan. Boil the eggs for four minutes. Cover the pan, turn off the heat and allow the eggs to finish cooking in the hot water for eight minutes. Drain the hot water off the eggs and chill them in ice water for a minute. Peel the eggs and set them aside.

While you are peeling the eggs, melt the butter over low heat in a one and a half or two quart saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the butter to make a smooth paste, which is called a roux. Add the salt, tarragon, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking the roux for about four minutes, being careful not to brown it. The tarragon will color the roux an unappetizing gray-green, but don’t worry, everything will be okay.

While the flour is cooking heat the milk to steaming, either in a pan on the range or in your microwave. Stir the milk into the roux with a whisk or fork until you have a creamy white sauce. If it seems a little too thick, add a little more milk. Cook the sauce for five minutes.

Slice or chop the eggs and stir them into the sauce. Add a few drops of hot sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve over toast.

NOTES: This recipe makes four generous servings.

Don’t even think of using oleo to make a roux. The sauce is better with whole milk, but one or two percent milk is okay. I have never tried skim milk.

Instead of peeling the eggs whole as for making deviled eggs, I often just cut the eggs in half and pop the egg out of the shell with a table knife. Just be careful not to include too much shell when you add the eggs to the sauce.

Jerri’s Leftover Turkey A la King

After we became empty nesters, a problem we never had when the kids were living at home rose to prominence. Even two people with excellent appetites and reasonably good memories can forget how many packages of leftover turkey they tucked in the back corners of the freezer.

Discovering a package of roast turkey sliced from the bird a year or two after a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is an unpleasant experience. Sometimes it even leads to conflict:

“How did this package of turkey get behind the vegetables?” I ask.

“You probably moved it. Use your eyes once in a while!”

“We can take it to the cabin and feed it to the fox,” I say, which defuses most of these confrontations.

However, it really is better to use that meat to make enchiladas, tetrazzini, soup or turkey a la king rather than fatten up the animals who should be getting their own turkeys. There are lots of them running around Wisconsin today.

Jerri is a genius when it comes to using up leftovers, and she has done her best to teach me how to “make do” as well. Most of the time, those “found foods” turn into delicious meals. Here is how we make leftover turkey a la king. Served over mashed potatoes, it is truly a dish made for royalty.

INGREDIENTS:

5 T butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups diced turkey
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped pimiento

PROCEDURE:

Dice the turkey meat (a mixture of white and dark is best) and set it aside. Open and drain a can of mushrooms or clean, slice and sauté some fresh mushrooms. Open a small jar of pimientos and chop them if necessary.

In a two quart saucepan or skillet, melt the butter and blend in the flour. salt and white pepper over low heat. You are making a roux. Cook the mixture for three or four minutes, but do not brown it.

Add the broth and milk, raise the heat to medium and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened and is bubbling.

Reduce the heat and stir in the turkey, mushrooms and pimientos. Continue stirring until everything is hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve over mashed potatoes, pasta, rice or toast. The recipe makes four generous servings.

NOTES: The original for this recipe is of course “Chicken a la King” which was probably invented in the late 19th century by William “Bill” King, a chef at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The recipe was first published in 1900.

You can substitute red or green bell pepper for the pimiento.