Lumberjack Omelet (How to Decode Egg Cartons)
THIS. This breakfast is… huge, and unrepentant. Enough to feed Paul Bunyan (and Babe, too) which is why the “Lumberjack Omelet” name seemed to fit.
You can’t go wrong with an omelet filled with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, and accompanied by avocado, smashed potatoes, and arugula. As I was whisking the eggs for this recipe, however, the importance of supporting health and sustainability by sourcing healthy eggs from happy hens crossed my mind.
It’s frustratingly difficult to decipher which claims printed on egg cartons are worth paying extra for, however. As someone who spent many years buying the least expensive eggs in the grocery store case and only recently graduated to paying a premium to support egg-production practices that align with my values, I can tell you that designations such as “cage free”, “all natural”, and “free range” may not be defined exactly as you assume.Can the claims on egg cartons be decoded to find healthier eggs from humanely-raised chickens? Click To Tweet
Spoiler alert: some of them mean literally nothing. They have no definition that is regulated or enforced. So it becomes a question of which claims are empty marketing and which are worth spending a few dollars more to support animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and nutritional superiority. Why does it have to be so difficult?!
So I created a quick list of common terms and their definitions… by no means a definitive list, and keep in mind when selecting eggs that the most common designation of all is none, which likely means that the eggs were produced by hens in “battery” cage systems. According to the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply—a group that includes commercial egg producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a collection of universities—95 percent of eggs in the United States come from chickens in battery cages. These allot each bird roughly 67 square inches of floor space (that’s less than the size of a standard sheet of paper). Battery cage systems are commonly stacked in long rows, inside massive barns that usually house tens of thousands of birds, and they are typically fed a mixture of corn and feed made from animal by-products.
This setup deprives the birds of the ability to exhibit natural behaviors, and compromises the health of the laying hen and her eggs, so consider investing in some level above conventionally-produced eggs. Use the guide below to decode the claims made on egg cartons and make an informed selection.
Once you’ve made your choice of eggs, add bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, arugula and avocado (also known as almost all of my favorite breakfast foods). This serves two, and is best when assembled piping-hot with the arugula tossed in a little bacon fat, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of salt. I’ll be making this again when I wake up extra hungry on a weekend morning after a night out or just a long week.
Make it whenever you’re ready for a hearty combination, and tweaking it to your preferences as you prepare it is best. Enjoy!
- 8 oz yellow baby potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 2 pieces of thick-cut bacon
- 1 heaping cup sliced mushrooms
- ¼ cup loosely-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
- 5 large eggs
- 2 handfuls of arugula, plus lemon juice to taste
- ½ avocado
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside. Place the potatoes in a small pot, and cover with water. Heat on high until the water boils, then reduce the heat to low and cook potatoes, covered, until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well.
- Place the potatoes onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a potato masher, bottom of a drinking glass, or fork, carefully smash the potatoes until flattened but still in one piece. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, salt to taste, and minced garlic. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven, and toss with ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves.
- In a medium (7" - 10") skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy, turning once. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Drain off a tsp of the bacon fat and reserve to dress the arugula.
- Cook the mushrooms in the bacon fat until soft, then remove from the skillet and set aside. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop. Add more fat or oil if necessary to the skillet to prevent eggs from sticking.
- Whisk the eggs until blended, then pour into the hot skillet. Mixture should set immediately at the edges. Allow to cook undisturbed over medium heat for a few minutes, until the top surface of eggs is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Spoon the mushrooms and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and bacon onto one side of omelet, then use a spatula (or two) to gently roll the filling up in a cylinder of egg.
- Toss the arugula with the reserved bacon fat and a squeeze of lemon juice, then add to the skillet along with the smashed potatoes, any extra sun-dried tomatoes, and a sliced avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and the rest of the fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.