Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oeuf en gelée

I had been meaning to try my hand at Oeuf en gelée for a while, usually a poached egg set in a consommé gelée, maybe with a few other ingredients set in there too. A terribly old fashioned idea, foodstuffs set in aspic, a foreign texture, a little odd to begin with, wobbly cold savoury aspic and egg, maybe not to everyone's taste, but worth a try. I do have to admit this initial try was not a total success, I didn’t make my own stock, I clarified it though (egg white raft, but gelatin filtration is good too), and the ratio of gelée to soft boiled egg was a little on the high side, but it’s a good starting point.

Future plans are to find a better container to set the aspic in, make my own stock and rely on it’s own gelatin to set the the dish, although I’m not sure how much would survive the clarification process, I’d imagine none if I chose to do gelatin filtration, and I’m thinking a good ham or bacon hock with a few trotters in there should do the trick, maybe a riff on bacon and eggs? So I’m sure there will be a more indepth post sometime in the future on this dish, hopefully more successful entry.


  1. I'd recommend avoiding gelatin clarification for aspic. You need high gelatin content, it removes it all. Adding it later is not the same and makes the liquid less clear. The raft itself contributes flavour.

    Also I'd avoid pig trotters if you can. Veal is the way, especially bobby (or white) veal. It is less strongly flavoured and I personally think tastes nicer. Pig trotters work from a gelatin standpoint, but I find the flavour less desirable. Your taste may very.

    I love aspic, glad you took a run at it. Making your own stock will significantly improve the quality. Bought stock generally is poor, even the expensive ones lack appropriate mirepoix. However I find aspic jellies difficult for most people to handle. I stick with hot consomme which I think is easier for most people.

    1. I definitely plan on doing this from scratch, the above I guess was all a bit of a shortcut 'test' to see if it was something I'd enjoy to experiment with, and although cold savoury gelée is at first a challenging texture/flavour combo it is in the end a pleasant one.

      I agree store bought stock, even good quality ones do leave a lot lacking.

      p.s. enjoying your blog, a great read.

  2. If you're clarifying with egg whites anyway, make your stock in a pressure cooker. It'll done in around 45 minutes, and sets up very nicely as an aspic.

    1. Pressure cooker stock is questionable. If you really know what you are doing it is ok, but you need a very good pressure cooker and a lot of experience. Generally I would avoid it because you can't skim your stock the whole time. The easiest way to get absolutely clear stock is to skim, skim, skim. A pressure cooker limits your ability to do this. Secondly if you don't regulate the temperature well, your stock will boil, which is death to getting a clear stock. Obviously you can do it in a pressure cooker, Heston Blumenthal does, but he has induction elements and very good pressure cookers (plus experience and a test kitchen). At home I'd suggest this is not a very efficient way to get a good quality stock. It may take longer, but I can get my stock fat free by the time I clarify. This means that I can yield a very high quality and clear aspic jelly (or consomme) once the raft takes effect. The raft can only clear out so much, it isn't magic, a very cloudy stock will still yield a less than perfect consomme or aspic.

  3. Colin, question all you want the technique doesn't have to be perfect to create a good stock in a pressure cooker. We're clarifying anyway right? Follow these easy steps. If it doesn't turn out you've lost an hour or so of your life.
    Assuming we're making a brown stock
    Roast bones
    Carmalize mirepoix
    Add aromatics (before or after deglazing your preference)
    add bones
    add water until at level solids
    bring to active simmer while skimming occasionally
    dump in ice cubes to cover 1/4 over the solids and mix
    wait for fat and coagulated proteins to form at the surface and skim away.
    Bring back to simmer

    Lock on lid for anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on your preference. Strain through cheese cloth or fine chinoise. Proceed with clarifying.

    My pressure cooker: Sitram Speedo I highly recommend it.

    If you haven't tried it don't comment. Experimentation is the source of innovation. It won't come to a boil as long as it's under atmosphere and you have a small amount of common sense. I have an electric range which is what I use most of the time, but I have made stock outside on my LP Wok burner when my range has been too cramped to fit the pressure cooker achieving the same results. FYI I use the same technique when making stock without the pressure cooker.

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  4. I wrote a rather snarky reply and I apologise. I'll say this, I'll admit using a pressure cooker can possibly make good stock. I do not think the method listed above is possible to do in 45 minutes, let alone double that time. I assumed a lot because of your 45 minute claim for stock.

    I agree that is perfectly skimmed before the lid is added there will be no problem using a pressure cooker if heat is maintained properly. I have used a pressure cooker before, perhaps mine was crap or my range was bad or I was using shit technique (or all 3), but I found it hard to maintain a consistently good temperature and get it consistently below the boil. I also though under your 45 minute suggestion you were cranking it up to 11.

    Lastly and importantly for me, just because you are clarifying your stock, does not mean the relative quality does not matter. A cloudy stock or one with fat will not clarify perfectly if using a raft. I know this both from experience (painfully) and from readings on the subject. My best clarifications have come from good stocks, where the raft has not had to remove too much sediment.

    I do admit it is possible to use a pressure cooker, I personally, find it is difficult to get as good quality in terms of clarity. Hence I offered my opinion. In your case you may find it easy.

    If I may ask a question. Is 45 minutes sufficient for significant gelatin extration, given usually it takes (non pressure cooked) more like 15+ hours to get sufficient extraction? I would expect it to be significantly less, still seems on the low side? Do you make two stocks from the bones and marry them?

  5. 45 minutes was cooking time, strain and chill or reduce farther depending on its intended use. Plenty of gelatin. This article was referencing off the shelf stock (which you admittedly use). I'm not sure what off the shelf stock is like where you're from, but in the US it's rancid at best.

    If you have a good pressure cooker, and listen to the amount of steam being released it won't boil since it's under atmosphere. If your stock comes to a boil the safety features in the cooker will kick in and you'll know your fucking it up.

  6. Just a note I don't use off shelf stock. I have tried them out of academic interest (my girl friend bought a bunch of them for me when we went on holiday because she knows I spend so much time making and cookign with stock). You can actually buy from the chiller section here vacuum packed fresh stock. It isn't amazing, but it isn't rancid either. Much better than the stuff that comes in cartons. It also has ok gelatin content.

    Just one last question. Are you suggesting the whole stock, after being brought to a simmer takes 45 minutes or just once you have cooked it and skimmed it clean, it takes only another 45 minutes in the pressure cooker?

    I'll make your exact recipe in the next week or so and let you know the results, as I'm out of veal stock. Will take picture. :)

  7. Tough question, for veal It'd let it go 45 minutes under pressure. If you adding tomato paste (which I don't) I'd start the 45 minutes from simmer after adding the ice.

    Good luck, but if your pressure cooker has trouble maintaining pressure this may be a waste of good veal bones. What are you deglazing with? If I was in your shoes I'd rush to the store and grab a case of Matua Valley Cab Sav, one bottle for deglazing and the rest for drinking throughout the adventure. I was a sous at a New Zealand restaurant in Arizona in 2000/2001, that was that last time I had anything from Matua Valley, but there was a Matua Cab/Merlot blend that was pretty remarkable on our wine list. I had just reached legal drinking age then... I'd like to find it again.

    One more tip, I typically glaze further with congac after the mirepoix is well caramelized, then deglaze with a either a thick skinned grape varietal, or an unfiltered pinot noir.