The day after Thanksgiving I was perusing the leftovers in my refrigerator, when, gasping with horror, I realized I had three hard-cooked eggs that I had been planning to use in an appetizer, but hadn’t had time to make. Now I had three eggs that I had to use within a day or they would be wasted. Oh no!
Well, I’m not really an egg salad sandwich kinda gal and I didn’t feel up to a big project like a Nicoise salad. I could have put them on toast with goat cheese and a mint pesto, but that just didn’t sound appealing at the time. So what to make. Then I remembered a simple supper dish my Mom used to make in the 1950’s when I was a kid – hard-cooked eggs on toast covered with a white sauce. Well, what are the holidays about but tradition and the comfort food of our childhood. So I decided to recreate that humble dish for a trip down memory lane.
Béchamel is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine and is also used in Macaroni & Cheese, Italian lasagna, Greek moussaka, and on an English Parmo, which is a breaded fried chicken fillet topped with béchamel and cheddar cheese, which is then grilled or baked to melt the cheese. It is also the base for sweet and savory soufflés.
This sauce is named after the Marquis Louis Bechameil, who was a financier and chief steward to French King Louis XIV. It first appeared in a cookbook by LaVarenne in 1651.
Béchamel is the base for other classic sauces to serve over eggs, veal, lamb, fish, vegetables and steak, such as:
Mornay Sauce – add Parmesan or Gruyere and egg (optional)
Cream Sauce – add heavy cream or crème fraiche
Mushroom Sauce – add mushrooms and lemon juice
Soubise Sauce – add cooked onions and put through a fine strainer
Tomato Sauce — add tomato paste
Curry Sauce – add minced onion, curry powder and chopped tomato, strain
Cheddar Cheese Sauce – add cheddar, dry mustard, Worcestershire
Escoffier Sauce – add oyster liquor, egg yolks, poached chopped oysters
Nantua Sauce – add crayfish, butter, cream
I hope this is giving you good ideas for some experimental fun. I know it did for me.
Hard-Cooked Eggs on Toast with Béchamel Sauce
Place one or two slices of toast on serving plate. Top with sliced or quartered hard boiled eggs. Knap Béchamel sauce over eggs. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.
Make the Toast
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil.
2. Using one or two pieces of toast per person: cut off crusts and place firm sandwich bread on sheet pan.
3. Bake 7-8 minutes to desired color. Set aside.
Note: You can also just use your toaster and leave the crusts on.
Make the Eggs
1. Place 1-2 eggs per person in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil.
2. When boiling starts, remove from heat and let eggs sit in hot water for 10 minutes.
3. Drain hot water from pan and fill with cold water. Let sit for about 10 minutes until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and reserve.
Make the Béchamel Sauce
Makes 1 cup
Recipe may be multiplied with these ratios up to 4 cups of milk
1 cup milk
Slices of onion
½ teaspoon peppercorns
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
dash of nutmeg, optional
1. In a saucepan, add onion, bay leaf and peppercorns to milk and bring to a boil. Cover and turn off the heat and infuse for 10 minutes.
2. To make the roux, melt butter in another heavy saucepan. Whisking constantly, add flour to butter and cook until foaming around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Pour the hot milk slowly through a strainer into the roux, whisking constantly until it thickens. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg if using.
4. Return to heat and bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, whisking for two minutes. Adjust seasoning.
5. If your sauce is too thick for your use, add additional milk by tablespoons to desired consistency.
Note #1: You may prefer a more or less thick Béchamel:
Thin Béchamel: 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon flour in above recipe
Thick Béchamel: 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour in above recipe
Note #2: You can skip the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns if you prefer. Your sauce won’t be quite as flavorful, but this sauce is so sweet and wonderful, it will be fine.