Monday, March 11, 2013

Eggs and Emulsions: Part 1

The egg. The symbol of life.
First of all, read this disclaimer before attempting any of this at home:

http://www.chowbacca.com/2013/03/a-shot-for-what-ails-ya.html

That said, unless you are very young, very old or auto-immune compromised, a case of Salmonella will probably not kill you (but, should generally be avoided).

The best preventative medicine for that, I've found, is to stick to a few rules:

1) Consider all outside surfaces of any food item to be contaminated. That is egg shells, fruit skins, and the exposed surfaces of meat.

2) The clock starts ticking the moment you breach the integrity of any membrane, either by cracking, crushing or cutting. If you cut into an apple, plan on eating the whole thing that day.

3) Temperatures you are comfortable in are temperatures wee beasties are comfortable in - minimize exposure to room temperature when possible, chill cooked food quickly if you are storing or serve right away. If you plan on eating something raw, if it is vegetal then wash thoroughly before consuming, make sure it is fresh and properly handled if it is meat (this can be a dice roll - which is why you should always have a good relationship with your butcher!).

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Eggs. Despite what some vegetarians will tell you an egg is essentially meat: it is in its raw form uncooked proteins and fats from an animal.

Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of birds, insects and reptiles that to them is fairly innocuous, like most forms of E. coli (and other coliform bacteria) is in most mammals. (The dangerous strains of E. coli, like O157:H7, produces renal toxins that can lead to kidney failure and death in humans).

The danger of salmonella is fever, dehydration and hemorrhage.

Totally grossed out now? Good. You've been warned.

So, now let's eat some raw or mostly raw eggs.

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Breakfast of diet conscious champions.
A traditional French lunch or breakfast in the spring and summer is a salad, typically of frisée and lardon, dressed with vinegar, herbs, pepper and oil and topped with a poached egg.

It's a little early for frisée, so I opted for store bought, probably green-house grown salad mix (aux herbes).

The eggs come from a co-worker with some land and some hens. The eggs are merely a couple days old at the time of writing, and have "muscle tone".

I decided to whip up a simple vinaigrette and poach some eggs for breakfast.

A simple dressing consisting of shallots, salt, pepper, herbs, oil, vinegar and a touch of Dijon mustard can be made a'la minute in a large mixing bowl into which you toss the greens just prior to serving.

For the egg poach you want salted, acidulated water (that is water with added acid, be it vinegar or lemon juice) that is just simmering and a bit of centrifugal force (physics nerds - I understand this is not a real force; by all means post your nasty retorts in video form).

I like my eggs medium to medium rare, which is to say, runny. That is... raw(ish). See above.

Break the yolks into the salad and mix with the vinaigrette to make an unctuous, eggy dressing.