Sunday, November 20, 2005

In preparation

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.


Blogger Robyn said...

For some reason, I was adverse to most kinds of eggs except hard-boiled until last year when I decided "Uh...I'll eat an omelet." I recall hating sunny-side up eggs growing up with the runny yolks coating my mouth, egg embryo-ness, and scambled eggs used to make me feel nauseous (I think it was a textural thing.)

On that note, I made an omelet tonight for the first time in ...ever? When I use eggs I usually just scramble (I think I cook mine longer than they're "supposed" to be, but then they don't make me feel nauseous from being all soft and stuff) or fry/scramble them, but for some reason I felt like making a really splodgey omelet today. Never tried poaching, but I've had poached eggs and I'm kinda "eh" about them.

Your skillet looks a lot like the one I have at home! With the red dot. Wee.

I remember learning about using egg to make clear stock in my food science class, but I never tried it. I've never made stock outside of the necessity of class though. :P

Egg custard tarts are some of the best things everrrr. When they're truly the bite-sized kind though, I can eat...10. I think I did that once. Not a good night.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah I love those dim sum egg tarts! They are one of my highlights of having dim sum.

3:11 AM  
Blogger Barbara Fisher said...

I don't know from eggs in Italy, never having been there myself, but I can tell you that if you can get ahold of really farm fresh eggs at the farmer's market--they'll spoil you.

Nothing wrong with the eggs from the supermarket--they still taste good, but if you can get some from hens that were running around eating bugs and grass and stuff, and you get the eggs, oh, a day or two after they are laid--they really are magnificent.

And if you can manage to get one just laid and still warm and cook that--wow.

Now, that said--I haven't had that last since my grandparents kept chickens. As the grandparents are long dead now--you can guess how many years it has been since I had an egg so fresh it was still warm.

But, one can dream....

10:34 AM  
Blogger mzn said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. You can tell I'm a city boy. I have never had an egg still warm from the hen's body and it does sound pretty amazing.

Robyn's comment reminded me that as a kid I was disgusted by runny scrambled eggs and it was only two or three years ago that I started to eat them undercooked. When I prepare them for both me and my dining companion, I cook them well done. They're great this way with fried cubes of Best's Kosher salami.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just about everyone I've ever cooked eggs for prefers them more cooked than I do. Bacon, too.

12:16 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

I love undercooked bacon but my dining companions tend to prefer it crumbly.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

Rejected egg farm slogan:

"Still warm from the hen's body"

Not that I wouldn't want to try it.

I don't really like bacon. :O Overall, I'm not a huge fan of animal products in breakfast foods.

12:54 PM  

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