Eggs occupy an impressive amount of space on restaurant breakfast menus, and it doesn’t seem likely that will change anytime soon. Recently, the American Egg Board (AEB) and the Egg Nutrition Center teamed up with The NPD Group and AEB culinary advisor, research chef Walter Zuromski, to compile a list of top egg trends for 2013. Restaurant operators may profit from several of the ideas the group identified.
The long history of diner slang for eggs (also known as hen berries) demonstrates the many ways customers like them: Adam and Eve on a raft (two poached eggs on toast); flop two (fried eggs); kiss the pan (over-easy); scrape two, or wreck ‘em (scrambled); and cluck and grunt (eggs and bacon). (Visit www.dinerlingo.com  for more diner slang.) Meanwhile, here are five egg trends to keep in mind this year.
1. Eggs are protein powerhouses for all dayparts. At breakfast, eggs are a convenient protein, lending themselves to menu items like portable breakfast bowls and hand-held specialties such as egg sandwiches and wraps.
2. Eggs are “on the grow” at restaurants. Over the past five years, quick-service restaurants’ shares of breakfast sales have risen by 8 percent and continue to lead the way. Egg breakfast menu items have increased by 20 percent. The American Egg Board reports that breakfast has outperformed lunch and dinner and remains a bright spot in terms of traffic and sales. Also, with more families frequenting QSRs, expect to see new platters, bowls and skillet dishes rising to the top of these menus.
3. Eggs go global as chefs develop innovative egg dishes featuring fresh vegetables and ethnic flavors. According to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2013 ” culinary survey, ethnic-inspired breakfast items occupy the number 14 spot on the top 20 trends list. Latin flavors include the chorizo and egg tortas served at Rick Bayless’ newest restaurant, XOCO, and the Santa Fe bagel sandwich at Bruegger’s Bagels, combining eggs, sausage and jalapeno cream cheese.
4. Eggs go mobile with food truck menus, with more food trucks focusing on breakfast as a way to break into the category without competing in the saturated lunch day part. Consumers are attracted by culinary creativity and menu items such as egg sandwiches on brioche and flatbreads, meats like pork belly and pulled pork paired with eggs, crepes, luxurious pancake varieties such as maple bacon and red velvet, and doughnuts.
5. Eggs get fried. In fact, fried egg menu items increased 20 percent at chains such as ‘wichcraft and Dunkin’ Donuts in the past year. At quick-service and casual-dining restaurants, expect to see upgraded quality and ingredients paired with eggs — avocados, mushrooms, flavored sausages and upscale cheeses. Think Panera Bread’s sausage and Gouda baked egg soufflé. Also look for upgraded prep techniques and menu items like toasted breads and fried eggs.
For more egg ideas from the American Egg Board, visit www.aeb.org . You can find information about egg nutrition and the role of eggs in the American diet at www.eggnutritioncenter.org .
Breakfast recipes highlight eggs
Frittata with Onion, Basil and Tomato
Yield: 4 servings
1 large or 2 small onions (about 2 cups)
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes (may use canned fire-roasted tomatoes)
½ cup chopped fresh basil
6 large eggs
¼ cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Cut onions into halves. Place flat sides down and cut each half into narrow wedges. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 9” or 10” skillet or sauté pan. Add onion and sauté 8 to 10 minutes until golden. Remove about one-third of the onion from pan and keep warm. Add drained tomatoes and all but about 1 Tbsp. basil to pan. Cook with onions 1 minute to heat.
Beat eggs in bowl with a fork. Add onion-tomato-basil mixture to eggs, stirring just to combine. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in skillet. Pour egg mixture into hot skillet. Cover and cook over low heat until set, about 15 minutes. Top with reserved onions and basil; sprinkle with cheese. Let rest 2 or 3 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.
Recipe and image: National Onion Association
Savory Hash Brown Muffins
Yield: 168 muffins, 2 oz. each
2.125 lb. carton of dehydrated hash brown potatoes, rehydrated per instructions
12 eggs, whisked as if for scrambling
3 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
2 ½ lb. cheese (Cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack or any combination of the three)
5 oz. butter, melted
as needed, salt
as needed, white pepper
Add rehydrated hash brown potatoes, eggs, scallions, cheese and butter in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Scoop mixture into 2-oz. ungreased muffin tins. Do not use muffin cups/inserts.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 375°F. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tins to allow hash browns to set.
Recipe and photo: Idahoan
Southwest Breakfast Wrap
Yield: 6 servings.
2 ¾ cups water
8 oz. multigrain blend (kamut, red rice and wild rice)
1 ½ cups milk
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ cup small-dice smoked chorizo
6 12” flour tortilla wraps
12 Muenster cheese slices
as needed, pico de gallo
as needed, fresh avocado slices
as needed, tomatillo salsa
Bring water to a boil. Add multigrain blend and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Beat eggs and milk together; set aside.
Add oil to a frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add diced chorizo to caramelize (1 to 1 ½ minutes). Add beaten egg to chorizo and cook eggs until fluffy. Remove from heat. Add hot multigrain blend to the eggs and chorizo in pan and mix well.
Place wraps on work station and evenly distribute egg mixture atop each. Place 2 slices Muenster atop eggs for each wrap and fold tortillas to close. Egg mixture should be hot enough to allow cheese to melt.
Serve with pico de gallo, fresh avocado slices and tomatillo salsa.
Photo and recipe: Indian Harvest Kamut Blend