Food safety isn’t a joke.
While making my dish ““ croque madame, a traditional French sandwich with egg, I may have pushed not only myself, but also my source to the fine line between edible and mildly dangerous.
Submitted by third-year physiological sciences student Faraz Alizadeh, who used to cook it back in his high school days as French club president, the dish was exactly as he described it ““ a more fun panini. The ingredients were simple, and the preparation was basically foolproof.
After cooking an egg sunny-side up, I essentially just made a sandwich with rosemary ham and lite Havarti cheese (gruyere would have probably worked better, but it was a bit pricier), plus some cut-up cherry tomatoes, sandwiched between two slices of my favorite bread ““ Milton’s multigrain. If you’ve never experienced the carbohydrate-laden joy that is this sweet and grainy delight, I recommend you put your Wonderbread down and run out to Trader Joe’s to get some immediately.
After browning the sandwich on the pan, I spread some mango ginger chutney on top. The recipe called for mayonnaise, but the thought of an egg-based cream on top of my cheese-y dish was too artery-clogging for me to think about at the time. I figured that a small substitution wouldn’t kill it, and that the sweetness of the mango chutney actually complemented the bread of obsession and the rosemary ham flavor.
After the sandwich was a bit juicier thanks to the chutney, I put another slice of cheese on top and put it in the microwave for a minute or so, to melt the cheese. The last steps were to just place the sunny-side up egg on top and dig in.
My first attempt was messy-looking but quite delicious (it is a basically a fried sandwich ““ it’s sadly difficult to make that sound unappealing.) The croque was thick and well-designed for cutting up to get a good combination of flavors in one bite. I thought to myself, I will bring a sandwich to Alizadeh the next morning.
And so I did ““ early Monday morning, I took the sandwich I had made about eight hours ago, wrapped it in foil and brought it to campus. In the early afternoon, when Alizadeh and I met, I warmed it up in the microwave and prepared the presentation. Then the thought hit me ““ are eggs even safe to eat the day after they’re cooked?
According to eggsafety.org, probably not. Temperature fluctuations mess with the yolk and could be prone to bacteria. I didn’t want to lead my source into a trap.
Luckily, he gladly agreed that maybe it would be best to not eat the egg, but cut around it and tried the sandwich. I told him about my substitution of chutney for mayonnaise and he said that experimentation is the mark of a good chef.
Even on the precipice of food poisoning, he complimented the sandwich and kept eating it. I breathed a sigh of relief ““ no one was going to die from my culinary endeavors this week.
Overall, it was an extremely simple recipe that yielded a quick and filling result. By substituting the more caloric and threatening ingredients for slightly more healthy counterparts, it became a more worthwhile meal.
In my eyes, it was a cheap and excellent substitute to booking a flight to Paris to eat some simple cafe food.
Next time, I’m taking Alizadeh’s advice and eating it with French onion soup … and cooking the egg no more than 15 minutes before eating it.
Also, here’s a quick update for those wanting to try last week’s Greek orzo recipe: Trader Joe’s actually has it in stock ““ it no longer has to be an epic voyage to find it. E-mail me if you attempt to make it, and let me know how it went.
If you want to be featured in next week’s column, send Krivoruchko a non-egg-based recipe at [email protected] or leave her a comment below.