Christmas 2014 - TWO: Eggs and Bacon
After I’d asked for and duly unwrapped a birthday present copy of Thomas Keller’s ‘French Laundry Cookbook’ this was the recipe which I decided to make first. It’s one tasty mouthful which I like to serve as a canapé or amuse bouche.
Mr. Keller runs his magnificent restaurant in California. Among many other claims to fame, he was invited to elaborate his version of 'confit byaldi' which is presented to the demanding restaurant critic, Anton Ego, in the classic animated film, "Ratatouille".
As luck would have it, we are just down the road from a lovely lady who rears quail and sells their eggs.
The most demanding preparation here is to cut the leek, turnip and carrot vegetable garnish into brunoise. I usually get dice between 2 and 3 mm (any smaller and the micro-fine motor skills needed start cramping my poor thumb tendons) I always make more than needed and find that the excess will freeze nicely for next time.
Next task... and, yes, it’s a bit fiddly slicing the tops off titchy quail eggs but, once done, they can be put into a bed of salt to stop tipping - they get too stubby to retrieve from their carton by this stage.
I use a stockpot with barely simmering water to boil the eggs. If you first swirl the liquid they will gather more of the white around them as they sink through a good nine inches of water. Not much more than a minute or the time it takes them to float to the surface will usually see them ready for rescue with a slotted spoon while they still have a runny centre. Straight into iced water now to stop the cooking. You can see a jar of them ready to store in the fridge where they will keep for a couple of days at least.
Choose your favourite bacon to chop and fry as crunchy crumbs (I’ll let you know about my supply from our wonderful local butcher in another post).
You can make Thomas Keller’s recommended ‘beurre monté’ but I tend to shortcut to whole butter to reheat the eggs in a pan. Warm the brunoise along with them. Then it's one egg into warmed spoons with its vegetables and a little of the buttery sauce. Sprinkle some crispy bacon pieces, twist a small grind of pepper over and offer them to your rather lucky guests.
This is a slightly intricate but not too demanding way to serve basic ingredients. The magic is in the miniature presentation, the terrific flavour and the huge appreciation which you can smugly accept before everyone asks for another!