I don't have cable television at home but whenever I have the chance to watch cable at someone else's home I go back and forth between The Food Network and The Cooking Channel. I have a few favorites shows and chefs that I always get excited about but as of late I've been getting excited about someone new, Laura Calder of "French Food at Home", she's charming, she's cute, she's French Canadian, her recipes are interesting and she focuses on cooking french food!
I was interested in one particular recipe that I saw her make, it's something called the jellied egg in which a stock is jellified and in it's mold is a cute little egg. A rather artful piece I have to say. I have tried this jellied concoction not that long ago at a Russian dinner, a chicken stock was jellified and suspended in it's mold were pieces of chicken, while the taste wasn't half bad I just could not get use to the texture, as you might suspect. But! It is a new year and to keep to my new year's goal of spicing up my kitchen life I tackled the jellied egg.
Considering how fantastically showy the jellied egg is (if you can get it to come out right) it is surprisingly simple to make. There are a few tricks to making it come out prettier than mine (more on this later). But first the details of my experience.
While it was a joy to make the jellied egg I can't say it was a joy to eat it. This time the taste as well as the texture did not suit my palate. The recipe called for beef stock as the base but perhaps a less flavored, lighter-tasting base would have better sufficed, perhaps chicken broth instead? I found the beef stock to be too flavorful, too sharp? Or was it too smokey? Either way... yuck. On top of the terrible jellified beef stock the jelly texture was still too odd to swallow, it's one thing to be eating strawberry jello but beef jello? Ew. And lastly, while I absolutely love hard-boiled eggs, a hard-boiled egg cold and suspended in the middle of jellified beef stock somehow takes away the whole beauty of eating a hard-boiled egg. What a shame that this recipe did not turn out, I was really beginning to like Laura Calder.
However, it was fun to make! and very artful too! Perhaps your palate is more refined than mine and you'll actually like the taste of the jellied egg, so look below (if you're interested).
INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings):
1 - 1 1/2 cups of beef consomme [but Laura Calder used regular beef stock so I did too]
1 Tbsp unflavored gelatine
1 Tbsp Cognac [I omitted this ingredient from my test run, it is optional]
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 egg [I was only cooking for two so used 1 egg only]
8 Fresh tarragon leaves [I did not have access to tarragon leaves so used parsley instead]
Put the stock in a saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatin. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to soften.
Gently heat the stock on low and stir to dissolve the gelatin - The gelatin will leave specks in the stock, in the process of heating and stirring to dissolve you will see the specks disappear and should end up with a clear brown beef stock.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cognac. Also add the salt and pepper, to taste.
Allow the stock to slightly cool. Pour the thinnest layer in the bottom of each ramekin.
Refrigerate the ramekins until the stock is sticky but not completely set - this took about 20 minutes for mine. Keep the remaining stock mixture out.
While the mixture in the ramekins in the refrigerator are setting hard-boil cook your eggs by putting your eggs in a pot and pour in cold water to cover. Bring the eggs to a boil uncovered. When the eggs come to a boil cover the pot, turn off the heat and allow the eggs to sit as such for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes rinse the eggs under cold water until cool and then peel. Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half length-wise.
When the stock mixture in the ramekins are set, decoratively lay the tarragon leaves on top of the stock mixture with the herb's best side facing down.
Set an egg half, yolk-side against the tarragon on top in each.
Pour over the remaining stock. Refrigerate the ramekins until fully set - this took 40 min to 1 hour for mine.
Although the end product of the Jellied Egg recipe was not suitable to my palate I still felt that it was rather beautiful. But of course there's always room for corrections. Here are a few tips for a more beautiful jellied egg (well, more beautiful than mine).
FIRST use consomme for a clearer gelatin, this is why the beef consomme is called for in this recipe, although I'm not too sure how different the taste is from beef stock.
SECOND use a ramekin or small bowl will straight sides. My bowl was obviously curved which makes it rather difficult to get the jellied egg out. When running your sharp knife around the edges the knife will be able to make a cleaner cut on the sides if your ramekin or bowl of choice has sides that go straight down with no curves.
THIRD take your time and be patient when getting your jellied egg out. If you force your jellied egg when it's not yet ready to let go you'll end up with the picture below...
... therefore, if you're jellied egg isn't ready fill a bowl larger than your ramekin or bowl with hot tap water, set the ramekin or bowl with your jellied egg in the hot bowl of water to allow the jellied egg to warm up just a tad (15 seconds to 30 seconds), then try to take the jellied egg out again. If the jellied egg still is having trouble letting go put it back in the warm bath for another few seconds, keep repeating this step until the ramekin or bowl releases the jellied egg. And while the warm bath will help to coax the jellied egg to let go of the ramekin or bowl it will still need a little bit of jiggling on your behalf.
FOURTH after running a sharp knife around the edge (between the jellied egg and the ramekin or bowl) hold a plate on top of the ramekin or bowl and flip the entire thing upside down so that the ramekin or bowl sits ontop of the plate, this will help greatly in getting the jellied egg out cleanly.