In 2009, Anthony Bourdain coined the term "egg slut" as a descriptor for a chef who simply adds an egg to everything to make it better. It was a prescient moment, as the impending new decade ushered in what the late food critic Jonathan Gold referred to as the phenomenon of the "era of Egg on Everything."
Typically, these were fried eggs, draped over everything from hamburger patties to Caesar salads, but I've recently entered my own personal Egg Era centered on jammy eggs. The kind that you boil for just under seven minutes and halve. To me, they're eggs at their most perfect — set whites cradling luscious, golden yolks. They also happen to be one of the best additions you can make to a late summer party.
The entertaining appeal of the jammy egg is two-fold.
Jammy eggs happen to be one of the best add-ins to traditional cookout salads like potato, macaroni and chicken salads. Again, while I love a hard boiled egg for many things, chopped jammy eggs simply belong here. Since the yolk is still a little liquid, it coats the contents of the salad, while also blending nicely with whatever "dressing" you use, whether it's mayonnaise- or vinegar-based. The chopped egg white also gives the salad some additional texture.
A great example of this is Monifa Dayo's "genius potato salad," which writer Brinda Ayer once described as "transcendent." It has everything going for it: parboiled and roasted potatoes with craggy, crisp edges; garlic aioli cut with creamy whole-milk yogurt; briny capers and pickled shallots; wisps of tender, fresh herbs; and, of course, soft-boiled eggs.
"[They] are cradled on top and roughly quartered, their unctuous yolks mingling with the aioli-yogurt blend," Ayer wrote. "Right before the garnish, perhaps the most important step of the whole recipe takes place: the briefest, gentlest hand-mixing of the salad's ingredients, so delicate so that streaks of aioli and discs of poached egg white will remain intact and identifiable within the mishmash."
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Another traditional salad in which this would work is "deviled egg pasta salad," which was a fixture at my family cookouts. Like the name suggests, it takes all the typical ingredients found in deviled eggs — mayonnaise, mustard and maybe a pinch of smoked paprika whipped with hardboiled yolks —and incorporates them into dressing for elbow macaroni. It's delicious as-is, but to borrow a term from Ayer, it's transcendent when you substitute soft-boiled eggs for hard-boiled ones.
On that note, while it would be a little weird to set out a plate of hard boiled eggs at a party (I'm not exactly sure why, but something shifts in those extra few minutes of boiling), I was at the soft launch of a friend's restaurant a few years ago and one of the passable snacks was a platter of halved jammy eggs served with a few different types of salt — black, flaky, smoked — and small bowls of minced herbs.
Its delicious simplicity can't be overstated.
Its delicious simplicity can't be overstated; these eggs are bite-sized umami and fat bombs made all the better by salt and a little verdance. If you want to add a little acid to them in the form of a drizzle of good vinegar or lemon zest, it wouldn't be misplaced, though it's by no means necessary. When served alongside sliced seasonal produce and good toast points, they feel particularly decadent despite only taking a few minutes to make. If you're looking for a way to feed a group of people that's truly effortless, add these to your entertaining menu.
Having a party of one?
The beauty of this dish is that it can be scaled down to a single egg. That alone is worth celebrating.
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