While I won’t say that every brunch dish we make at home won’t actually be brunch-ish or brunch-adjacent, I have to admit that this new little exercise of ours is encouraging me to scour my cookbooks for the dishes I felt would always be perfect for that time of day first. Since most of them involve eggs of some style, I find myself thinking of the Top Chef season 4 version of Restaurant Wars, when during the Quickfire they have to work the egg station at a Chicago dining institution. For this dish, in particular, I found myself thinking of dastardly Spike smugly talking about how precise egg cookery is, and I have to say that it stayed in my brain while I made this particular dish.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a sucker for mushrooms and eggs, and gently-scrambled eggs that are just a touch runny are right in my wheelhouse. They are truly a labor of love because they take a hell of a lot more time to get right than the hard scramble I grew up with; that said, your patience is rewarded and if you buy some decent eggs, you’re doing them justice by cooking them this way anyway.
One thing that I’ve noticed about Basque cooking is that they aren’t big on the spices that otherwise define the cuisine of the rest of Spain, including Catalunya. That’s not to say that they are somehow averse to intense flavor, per se, but you’re not going to see the abundance of saffron, paprika, cumin, and other spices that you see in the cuisine that usually defines other regions of Spanish food. (Speaking of Top Chef, I cringe when I think of Ilan Hall yelling at Marcel to “use some paprika” because he was working at Mario Batali’s Spanish restaurant in New York and ugh, how problematic both Hall and Batali turned out to be.) Instead, it’s all about seasoning the food really well, usually with big, fat flakes of salt.
Parsley and garlic are two of the most commonly used ingredients that are also brought to the party, so when I was thinking of what to serve with these eggs, a compound butter heavy on the parsley and garlic readily came to mind. I recently discovered that our Teet sells modestly-sized sourdough loaves that are basically perfect for two people in this situation (four if your cooks aren’t greedy), and I felt that a few slices from that loaf slathered with some of that butter would be the best accompaniment to softly scrambled eggs.
The main key to making these eggs is patience—after the mushrooms go into the pan and sear for about five minutes or so untouched—well, it’s all about slowly scrambling the eggs which takes a process of moving the pan on and off the heat to make it happen. It’s a technique that takes time, but the final results are so worth the effort.
These eggs do have a bit of a kick from a hefty pinch of cayenne pepper—thus totally undermining my earlier thesis about their aversion to lots of spices—but the effect is a warming sensation, rather than a burning one. When combined with the mushrooms, it makes for a wonderfully satisfying dish that is great at brunch but would also make for a really light dinner. This is absolutely going on my list of things to make when the warmer weather hits and we need dishes that won’t put a lot of heat into the room. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this with some txakoli while the weather still sucks.
Mushroom eggs with sourdough toast and parsley-garlic butter
Lightly adapted from Basque Country by Marti Buckley
For the toast:
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature (I prefer Kerrygold unsalted)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
To make the butter: in a small bowl, combine the butter, parsley, garlic, and salt, and blend with a fork until well-combined. Cut a decent-sized piece of plastic wrap and dump the butter mixture onto the plastic wrap. Clump together with your hands, and then wrap it sausage-style and chill until ready to use.
Toast the sourdough as you see fit—we broil ours for about 4 minutes (checking regularly) until golden brown, and then applying the compound butter when warm and applying a little more for added goodness.
For the eggs:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 lb mixed mushrooms—I used a combination of oyster and maitake
- Kosher salt
- 8 large eggs
- Cayenne pepper or hot chili powder, to taste
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
To make the mushroom eggs: heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a nonstick pan over high heat. When shimmering, add the mushrooms with a hefty pinch of salt and let them cook, untouched, for about five minutes. Turn down the heat to medium, and let the mushrooms cook for another five minutes.
In the meantime, beat the eggs with a generous pinch of kosher salt and a decent pinch of cayenne pepper.
Before adding the eggs, add the last tablespoon of olive oil and let heat up over medium heat. Pour in the eggs, reduce the heat to low, and start stirring the eggs vigorously with a spatula or wooden spoon and then move the pan off the heat and keep stirring; when the eggs seem to stop cooking, move them back to the heat; repeat this until the eggs are barely set and are still slightly runny.
Add in parsley and spoon into bowls or plates to serve and plate with the toasts.