Yesterday I clarified my stock. This is a chore I had never before attempted. I added two beaten egg yolks and two crushed eggshells to about five cups of cold stock and stirred well over low heat for about fifteen minutes. This is what it looked like when it came just short of the boil. The proteins in the egg attract the particles of itsy-bitsy stuff, so small they can't be strained out, and all of this rises to top in a prodigious layer of scum. I strained through cheesecloth and the result was a mighty clear liquid.
Here are eggs poaching in a skillet. For the longest time I was afraid to poach eggs. I couldn't picture what would happen when I dropped an egg into hot water. I wondered whether the eggs would end up like egg drop soup or something. It turns out the whites do a nice job of holding on to themselves and the yolk. The fresher the egg the nicer the shape say the experts. They also say to add vinegar to the water, advice I always follow; apparently salt works too. These eggs spread out more than is perhaps ideal, but if you want them pretty you can just trim the whites to make the egg a circle. It really doesn't take much longer to poach eggs than it does to fry them and it doesn't take much water, only an inch or two. (A whole post about poaching eggs: here.)
While we're on the subject, have I mentioned how much I love eggs? I have never met an egg I didn't love. When I make them it's a struggle to decide what cooking method to use. They're all so good. And different. It's amazing how different from one another a baked, boiled, fried, and poached egg can be. And scrambled, my god. They're the best, slowly stirred with lots of butter and cream over low heat until the eggs hold together in that moment when they're just becoming solid. (A bit of tarragon is nice with this.) And we must not forget the Chinese dim sum egg custard tart, the eggiest tasting egg dish I've ever tasted. The very essence of egg in a bite-size pastry shell. And you know what I really, really can't stand? When foodie elitists tell me that I must try the eggs in Italy with yolks a vivid golden brown or the ones from free range chickens or the freshest ones I can find on the farm. I grant that all of these might be delicious, but I resent the implication that the ones the rest of us buy at the supermarket are not.
Ah, so why was I clarifying stock and poaching eggs? Tell you later.