More breakfast ideas – steak & eggs, dippy eggs with soldiers

March 8, 2024

Of course, since last week’s column was about pork products’ monopoly on breakfast, I should have expected to receive comments from ardent fans of steak and eggs. Seen in the photo is an example of a typical plate – sliced tenderloin along with an egg sunny side up and another over easy. The toast strips are sometimes called “soldiers,” and I’ll tell you why.

But first, what is the best cut of beef to serve for your breakfast menu of steak and eggs? If budget is of no concern, you will be happiest with a tenderloin, and even more special is the section from the end of the tenderloin known as filet mignon. In either case, you’ll want to grill the meat and serve it medium rare to appreciate the beef’s tender, juicy qualities.

If you prefer to reserve these cuts for an elegant dinner and want to use something less costly, consider ribeye, flat iron or top sirloin. You’ll want to avoid leaner, thinner cuts, as they will have a tendency to be chewier than desired. In the days of hearth cookery, steaks were placed on grates over hot coals inside the kitchen fireplaces, comparable to modern barbecue grills. Today, if you have to cook a steak stovetop, it’s best with a cast-iron grill pan.

One easier approach to steak and eggs at breakfast time is the proverbial doggie bag source. When we go out to dinner, I‘m usually unable to finish an entire steak, no matter how “petite” the selection. Those perfectly seared leftovers are ideal for the next morning, needing little more than a quick reheat in a skillet with a bit of melted butter. 

Back to the eggs – the ones called sunny side up get their name from the way they look, with a bright orb of sunny color in the center. These are only cooked on one side, leaving the yolks liquid and the whites barely set. If you’d like the top a bit firmer, you can either cover the pan to capture some steam, or baste the tops with melted butter from the pan.

The other egg in the photo qualifies as over easy, meaning it has been flipped once to cook the white completely while still leaving the yolk runny. As you may have noticed, the range of doneness comes with different names, such as “over medium” and “over hard” to describe how firm the yolk will be. The last is most commonly found in breakfast-egg sandwiches, where a runny yolk would be too messy.

A Pennsylvania Dutch term often heard in Pennsylvania and Ohio is “dippy eggs.” Again a self-explanatory title, these eggs have soft yolks that are perfect for dipping into with a piece of toast. In the UK, dippy eggs are soft-boiled eggs served in an egg cup with strips of buttered toast called soldiers. Some suggest the slender bread slices lined up together resemble army soldiers on parade, while others claim it’s a ruse to encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast.

While soft-boiling an egg seems an easy task, the key to success is timing. First, it’s necessary to bring the water to a boil in your pot before adding the eggs, to ensure they’re cooked for the desired time. If you start them in the pot of water and then heat them, you’re adding to the cooking time. Once the water is at a boil, gently lower in the eggs using a slotted spoon and cook for exactly 7 minutes.

This timing will give you a jammy yolk and a fully set white. If you prefer the yolk runnier, you can shave a minute off the cooking time. The key to making the eggs easier to peel is the water bath after they’re boiled. If serving these in a decorative egg cup, remove the top rounded edge of the shell with an egg cutter or topper, leaving the center open so the soldiers can march in.

Steak & Eggs

1 lb ribeye steak

salt & pepper

3 T butter, divided

1 T olive oil

6 eggs

2 T butter

About 30 minutes before cooking, remove steak from the refrigerator. Pat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides; set aside. In a large cast iron skillet or grill pan melt together 1 T butter and olive oil over medium-high. Add the steak and cook for 5 minute per side, turning once. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and cover with foil to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Pour out any remaining juices in the skillet and add the remaining 2 T butter; melt over medium-low. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to desired degree of doneness (i.e., sunny-side, over easy or over medium). Slice steak and serve with eggs. Yield: 4 servings.

Soft-Boiled Eggs

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium so the water maintains a gentle boil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the simmering water. Set a timer for 7 minutes.* Fill a large bowl with cold water, and add a handful of ice. When the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the hot water, and immediately add them to the ice bath. Allow them to chill for just a minute before serving. *This timing produces a yolk that is gooey and jammy, with some parts runny and some parts starting to solidify; if you prefer a runnier yolk, cook eggs for 6 minutes.

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