Even the roll itself is versatile and can be made from any number of ingredients. Savory roulades — the term means "to roll" in French — can be made from beef, chicken or turkey. Sweet roulades — such as American jelly rolls and French buche de Noel — can be made from cake. The latter, a yule log frosted with chocolate bark, is reserved for Christmas.
And that's how I think of this egg roulade, which wraps a souffle-like sheet of baked egg around a savory filling of prosciutto, spinach and cheese. It's special for breakfast for Christmas morning, a way of making a spongy and elegant omelet for eight people. It's delicious and practical. Not only does one recipe feed a crowd (rather than making separate omelets), it also can be partly prepped ahead of time.
To make it a day ahead, just bake off the egg wrapper as directed, then store it overnight in the refrigerator. Fifteen minutes before serving, you just stuff it, roll it, and pop it in the oven. You also can freeze the cooked wrapper, covering it first in plastic, then in foil. Just defrost in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.
To make the egg wrapper, you start with a bechamel (thickened milk) base leavened with beaten egg whites. It's sort of like a thin rectangular souffle, though a roulade is far less delicate than a souffle (which is good since you will be handling and rolling it). Just make sure your baking sheet is well buttered and floured.
The only tricky part about making a roulade is getting it to roll evenly around your chosen fillings. After the egg wrapping is baked and cooled, a damp towel is used to help roll it around the fillings. The towel serves the same purpose as the reed mat used to form sushi rolls; it helps to lift up the wrapping completely and uniformly and to roll it tightly.
If the wrapping has been chilled overnight or frozen and defrosted, it needs to be heated slightly. Put the wrapping, parchment side down, back in the rimmed sheet pan, then place the pan over two stovetop burners on low heat for just a couple minutes. This will warm up the bottom of the wrapping and enable you to peel off the parchment.
As for the filling, almost anything will do, though my preference is to always include cheese. Cheese not only boasts great flavour and texture, it also is gluey enough to keep the filling ingredients in place in the centre of the roll. But whichever fillings you choose, make sure to cook them first to get rid of any excess water. Raw spinach or mushrooms, for example, would make a very wet filling.
Once you're done, you may find the eggs and some good times rolling in equal measure. Merry Christmas!
EGG ROULADE STUFFED WITH PROSCIUTTO, SPINACH AND ROASTED RED PEPPER
Start to finish: 1 hour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra
1 1/4 cups whole milk, warmed
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 ounces coarsely grated fontina or Gruyere cheese (about 2 cups)
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
3/4 cup roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
Heat the oven to 350 F. Use a bit of butter to lightly coat a 15-by-10-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with kitchen parchment, leaving about 1 inch hanging over each of the pan's shorter sides, then lightly butter the parchment. Sprinkle the parchment with a bit of flour, then tilt the pan and tap gently to spread the flour and discard any excess.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the 5 tablespoons of butter. Add the 6 tablespoons of flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the milk in a stream, whisking, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking the entire time. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the salt and pepper.
In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Stir a quarter of the whites into the yolk mixture, then fold in the rest, gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and carefully smooth with a metal spatula.
Bake on the oven's middle shelf, rotating the pan after 7 minutes. Bake for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch. Set the pan on a rack to cool slightly. Increase the oven to 375 F.
While the roulade is baking, in a large skillet over high, heat the oil. Add half of the spinach and cook, stirring, until it starts to wilt, then add the remaining spinach and cook until all the spinach has wilted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a colander to drain, pressing lightly on the spinach to drain any excess liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
Use a bit of butter to lightly coat one side of a sheet of kitchen parchment cut to the same size as the egg sponge. Place the parchment, buttered side down, onto the top of the sponge. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, then carefully invert the sponge onto a work surface. Peel off the parchment from the top of the sponge.
Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sponge, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Top the cheese with the prosciutto in an even layer, followed by the spinach. Arrange the red pepper strips in one line down the centre (starting and ending at the short sides).
Starting with one of the longer sides, use the towel to help roll up the sponge, enclosing the filling, jelly roll-fashion. Carefully pick up the roulade and place it seam side down on the baking sheet. Bake it in the middle of the oven until the cheese has melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 230 calories from fat (68 per cent of total calories); 26 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 160 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 17 g protein; 770 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."