I had been looking feverishly through recipe books, magazine clippings, and favorite blogs trying to find ideas for the egg series. So far I had a lopsided list favoring the sweet side. I was worried that I would end up with several recipes that looked and tasted the same if I didn’t find something a little outside the box and that’s where Joe Beef came to my rescue.
Joe Beef was perhaps the most talked about cookbook of 2011 and not without good cause. Attention to detail, passion for food, and an amazing atmosphere pour from the photos and stories. This passion extends from the restaurant and into the recipes for modern interpretations of French market food. The recipes are created by Frederic Morin and David McMillan whom are owner/chefs of Joe Beef in Montreal (a city I can’t wait to visit and might just try to convince the other half to go to for our honeymoon). Restaurants like this are why people get involved in the food business in the first place.
I have long been in love with the way the French handle their ingredients. They will take cuts of meats that most people will never use or even see and coax the fullest expression of flavor and texture from them. Unfortunately a lot of French dishes either don’t photograph well or immediately make you think of the 70s when you see them. If you can get past the inglorious look of the food and try it you will discover, like I did, the food you have always wanted to eat, but just didn’t know it yet.
The guys at Joe Beef do something that most restaurants wouldn’t even try – they change their menu weekly. Not just a cycling of the same stuff, but 5-6 new recipes every week. You have to love cooking and playing in the kitchen in order to evolve that quickly. Because of their constant experimentation, they had nearly two thousand recipes to choose from for this book. They were even generous enough to give up some of their signature sauce recipes, like mayonnaise, chicken skin jus, and BBQ sauce among others.
Montreal has a wonderful food culture to draw from and it seems that Joe Beef has absorbed the whole thing and come up with a book that every food lover would love to eat from. Oeufs en gelée is like many French gems, long forgotten and delicious. It turns the humble egg into the star of the dish, surrounding it with a consommé so delicious it defies words. Be forewarned that this is no quick scrambled egg recipe. It will take two days of work and some serious time over a pot of consommé ingredients in order to make it, but the result will be transcendent. Plus, you will end up with enough consommé to make a couple batches or for a small pot of soup. I froze the remainder of my consommé and now am riddled by what I should make from it.
Oeufs en Gelée – Recipe
Based on the recipe from Joe Beef
70g diced celery (1/4″)
70g diced, peeled carrot (1/4″)
60g diced onion (1/4″)
1lb lean ground beef
1lb ground turkey
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 clove garlic
3 quarts (3 litres) ice water – It must be as cold as possible
6 sheets gelatin (about 2 packets)
1 tsp sherry vinegar
8 cups (2L) water
1 tbsp salt
8 medium (or smallest you can find) eggs, at room temperature
To suspend in your aspic:
Premium Cooked Ham and Tarragon Leaves
Peas, Baby Carrots, and Asparagus
Anything that you think will be fun to suspend!
Toast, salt and pepper
- In a heavy stockpot whisk together the celery, carrot, onion, beef, turkey, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and ice water. You will get a mixture that looks pretty darn awful but that’s what you are looking for.
- Place over a medium-low heat and stir until it begins to simmer. This will take quite some time and we actually turned the heat up to medium to speed the process along.
- Stop Stirring! The meat and vegetables will start to float to the top and form a “raft”. Leave the consomme along and DO NOT STIR it for the remainder of the preparation. If you stir it the raft will break and sink and your consomme will go cloudy.
- Simmer gently over low heat for 2 hours. Do not allow it to come to a boil as this will break your raft.
- Place a strainer lined with several layers of cheese cloth over a large bowl.
- Carefully make a hole in the raft. I used a big spoon and carefully excavated a small hole while being careful not to sink the raft. Plunge your ladle through the hold and ladle the liquid through the sieve.
- You should be left with a clear, not cloudy, “meat tea”. Definitely take a spoonful and taste it. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate overnight until the fat separates and congeals on the top.
(The next day)
- Ensure your eggs are out of the fridge and warming to room temperature.
- Soften the gelatin in a little bowl of cool water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the consommé from the from the fridge and skim off the fat.
- Transfer 2 cups of the consommé to a small pot and place over high heat. The rest of the consommé can be frozen for up to 3 months. I ended up needing an extra half a cup of consomme because my eggs were a little large and so I needed extra to cover them. If you have larger eggs, consider adding an extra half cup – you shouldn’t need extra gelatin.
- When the consommé comes to a boil, add the Madeira and vinegar and season with salt. At this point my consommé sadly turned a little cloudy. I am not sure if my Madeira or vinegar was too old or what, but I wasn’t about to sweat it since it tasted great. Add the gelatin to the consommé and stir until dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Fill 6 (3.5 oz/100ml) molds with 1/4 inch of consommé and place them in the fridge to set for about 20 minutes. This layer will be the top of your aspic.
- To prepare your soft boiled eggs, bring the 8 cups (2L) of water to a boil over medium-high in a large pot. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Very carefully add the eggs to the boiling water and cook for exactly 4 1/2 minutes. The timing needs to be precise in order to ensure you don’t cook the yolks.
- Transfer the eggs to the ice water to cool for 10 minutes.
- Carefully peel the eggs underwater. They are soft boiled and delicate so be careful not to break them – this is why you prepare 8 eggs, when you only need 6. I had an issue with the white of one egg sticking to the shell so I just went on to the next egg. I expected the peeling to be much worse than it was, but still be careful.
- You made it to the fun part, the making of your aspic/gelée. There are two important considerations you need to pay attention to here, first is that the bottom of the mold is the top of your aspic. Second is that you want the texture of anything you put in the aspic to be soft so that it matches with the egg and jelly. So if you plan to put in carrots, peas, or asparagus, boil it now until it comes to a soft (but not mushy) texture.
- Artfully arrange your ingredients in the bottom of the mold on the set layer of jelly (this is what people will see when you remove the gelée from the mold). Carefully place your egg in the centre and surround it with your choice of ingredients. Your consommé holds everything in place.
- When you have everything in place, fill the molds with consommé and place them back in the fridge. They will take about 2 hours to set and will keep for up to 2 days.
- To unmold: pour 1 inch of hot water into a bowl. Place eat mold into the water and let it sit for 30-60 seconds. Invert the mold onto a plate and they should slip out. If they don’t you likely need to break the vacuum between the mold and aspic. Insert a small knife between the mold and aspic and twist lightly.
- Serve with toast and salt and pepper.
Savory Eggs Series
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