Ohio Poultry Assoc. highlights egg versatility, expert tips during holiday season

Staff report

COLUMBUS — The countdown is on as friends and families will soon be getting together for holiday gatherings. For home cooks hosting this year, avoid last-minute scrambling by stocking up on versatile staples – including an extra carton of eggs.

“For holiday and everyday dishes, eggs play a critical role in flavor and consistency, making them a staple during this busy time of year,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association.

“Not only are eggs delicious and nutritious, but they are versatile and can be incorporated into dishes for any occasion,” Chakeres said. “From potlucks and family dinners to holiday parties and happy hours.”

According to recent research, more eggs are purchased during the winter holiday season than any other time of the year. Whether creating a brunch casserole, pasta carbonara, a deviled egg appetizer, cookies, eggnog, a simple scrambled egg breakfast or a hard-boiled egg snack, eggs play a starring role.

To eliminate stress when preparing egg dishes and to satisfy all taste buds, Ohio egg experts recommend the below tips and recipes:

For the office potluck – deviled eggs: For a mess-free method, combine filling ingredients in a 1-quart plastic food-storage bag, press out air and seal bag. Press and roll bag with hand until mixture is well blended. Carry the egg yolk mixture and whites in separate food-storage bags to the potluck in a small cooler. Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture at the party. Push filling toward one bottom corner of bag. Snip off about 1/2-inch of corner. Squeeze filling from bag into egg whites.

• For the happy hour “Friendsmas” – eggnog: Stirring constantly and making sure to cover the entire bottom and corners of the pan prevents scorching and ensures that the mixture heats. For perfectly smooth eggnog, pour through a sieve before chilling. For a richer eggnog, substitute half-and-half or light cream for some of the milk. This Classic Cooked Eggnog (recipe listed below) will hit the spot. Just before serving, stir brandy, rum or bourbon into eggnog, if desired.

• For the neighbors – holiday cookies: Chill dough to make cookies easier to handle and shape. Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

• For the holiday gathering – pies: When cracking eggs, keep the shell out of the bowl by hitting the wide side of the egg against a flat surface, such as a table or countertop instead of hitting it against a sharp corner or bowl edge. This not only prevents shell from falling into the mixture, but also makes a more precise opening in the egg.

• For the family brunch – pancake casserole: Whisk the pancake batter until a thick, lumpy batter forms. Stop before the batter smooths out – lumpy batter is good. Customize this delicious Pancake Casserole with the family’s favorite pancake flavor.

In addition to being versatile, eggs also offer many nutritional benefits. At 70 calories each, eggs are rich in choline, which promotes normal cell activity, stimulates brain development, increases memory retention and supports the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. Research shows that eggs eaten at the start of the day can reduce daily calorie intake, prevent snacking between meals and satisfy appetites throughout the day. At just $0.17 per serving, eggs also are the least expensive source of high-quality protein.

Ohio is one of the largest egg farming states in the nation, producing more than 9 billion eggs each year. In 2016, the value of eggs produced in Ohio was nearly $411.9 million.

Ohio egg farmers are committed to providing safe, affordable food for consumers and caring for their flocks and the environment during the holidays and all year-long. To ensure eggs are of the highest quality, Ohio egg farmers provide flocks with comfortable barns to live in and a continuous supply of fresh water and food. Ohio egg farmers also follow best management practices for preserving the land, air and water on and off their farms.

Classic Cooked Eggnog

6 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups whole milk, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 cinnamon sticks for garnish

Beat eggs, sugar and salt in large heavy saucepan until blended. Stir in 2 cups milk.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly but gently, until mixture is just thick enough to just coat a metal spoon with a thin film and temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat immediately.

Stir in remaining 2 cups milk and vanilla. Refrigerate, covered, until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight.

Staff report