Two years ago when we did our last brunch cover story, we devoted space specifically to eggs Benedict. This time out, we searched for the super simple to the souped-up egg.
The farm eggs are first cooked to perfection at The Citizen. The eggs are seasoned, enhanced with
sharp cheddar and pressed into an artisanal bollilo roll and served with an outrageously tasty cabbage slaw.
Add a side of the best grits in town. (The daily gluten-free quiche with rice crust is also a favorite.) 909 E. Main St., Lower Level, 780-9038 or citizenrva.com
Ode to a Grecian Egg
Chef Andy Howell at Camden's Dogtown Market takes the flavors of Greece and turns them into breakfast. Spinach, feta and shrimp are all wrapped in a perfectly cooked omelet. Savory, salty and tangy flavors work together to bring you a Saturday-morning breakfast that can't be beat. 201 W. Seventh St., 745-6488 or cdmrva.com
This dish starts with crispy, ethereal phyllo cups. The wonderful cheese manouri, the creamier cousin of feta, is crumbled into the bottom of each and topped with a poached egg, which is then treated to a delicate sun-dried tomato hollandaise. On the side are the lamb-and-pork sausages sautéed with portobello mushrooms. A perfect balance, only done by Stella. 1012 Lafayette St., 358-2011 or stellasrichmond.com
Sometimes an egg is just an egg. Tender whites, runny yolk, leaving just enough to sop up with rye toast and corned beef hash. Cooking eggs is hard. Not toughening the whites without under- or over-cooking the yolks is a skill. They have that skill at McLean's. And they open at 6 a.m. 3205 W. Broad St., 358-0369 or mcleansrestaurant.com
Roast Duck Quesadilla
Two over-easy eggs become the sauce on a decadent roast duck quesadilla, topped with a fresh veggie salsa. The gooey queso cheese contrasts with the crisp flour tortilla. The veggie topping is seasonal, this time with radishes, yellow squash and fresh herbs. All the elements combine to form a fabulous tasty treat at The Black Sheep. 901 W. Marshall St., 648-1300
Plus these perfectly crazy dishes:
- The Griff at The Dairy Bar: a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit with a chocolate-peanut butter milkshake, no substitutions
- Hoppel Poppel at The Mill on MacArthur: scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage, potatoes, onions and mushrooms, with a hit of Richmond-made Uzmatai hot sauce
- Paco's Barnyard Romance at LuLu's: two tamales with fried eggs and salsa verde
- Eggs on Horseback at River City Diner: grilled strip steak with two eggs, any style
What makes the perfect egg?
Whether you prefer them scrambled, fried, over-easy or hard-boiled, the secret to a perfect egg doesn't lie in the skillet.
Instead, the secret lies in the hands of the farmer.
Ruth Ann Hutchinson has been raising hens and cattle on Deer Run Farm in Amelia for about five years with her husband, Robert, who grew up on a farm. The Hutchinsons' hens, which are pasture-raised, produce about 14 dozen eggs a day. Pasture-raised, Hutchinson explained, is not quite the same as free range.
"Free range can be a little bit deceptive," she says. "It doesn't necessarily mean the hens are in an area where there's a large portion of grass."
Pasture-raised means the hens are kept on a very large area and are moved frequently so they have access to fresh grass and bugs in the soil. Hutchinson keeps their grain intake to a minimum, forcing the hens to forage as much as possible.
The benefits of foraging come in the form of increased vitamins — such as beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and D — and, in turn, show in the yolk of the hens' eggs. Yolks are richer and firmer, rather than spreading out when cracked — not to mention the color.
"The way you can really tell a hen that has been on grass most of its diet is a really, really orange yolk," she says. "That's the key."
And her favorite way to eat them? "Either in a quiche or scrambled. Or an omelet." —Catherine Amos