After a pretty long break, we’re back at it with our meals inspired by our reading of McGee’s On Food and Cooking . It’s been a little while – a month or two ago, we started the latest chapter, on eggs. We even cooked and photographed a really quite delicious meal to go with the first part of the egg chapter, but the writing never happened, so here I am with part two of the egg chapter: Egg Biology and Chemistry. But first, I’d like to go off on something of a tangent.
In 54 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius is rumored to have been murdered by poisoning by being fed a death cap mushroom. Though then again, maybe it was Belladonna, a.k.a. nightshade, that the poisoner used. Nobody seems to really know.
“But what does that have to do with eggs?”, you’re probably wondering. If you’ve met me or have ever read this blog before, then you should know that, eventually, I’ll get there. So just hold on, or scroll down if you don’t have the patience for my overly long and detailed descriptions. For, you see, as we learned from our McGee reading (well, we learned a lot from this chapter, but this part was really fascinating), chicken’s eggs – and in particular the whites – are filled with all sorts of different proteins, each of which serves a different function. And it seems that most of them are all about keeping the embryo safe from the outside world. There’s a protein that specializes in killing bacteria. Another that inhibits the reproduction of viruses, and at least three that bind vitamins so that other animals can’t use them. Apparently lab animals, when fed raw eggs, will actually lose weight.
So, we built a meal around foods that are uniquely designed by nature to try to keep other creatures from eating them! There were two relatives of nightshades (tomatoes and potatoes; tangent number two and also totally fascinating – potatoes will kick your butt if you try to eat any part of the plant other than the root), and some “deadly” portobello mushrooms. Which we thought would be quite delicious alongside a steak. So, you know. That’s what we cooked tonight. It was amazing. Really. And not just because the steak was quite possibly one of our best-cooked steaks to date. Though I was pretty proud of us for that too. But that’s where the eggs come in to really save the day.
Full disclosure: I’ve long harbored a secrete dream of becoming a saucier. Panda gave me a book on sauces for my birthday this past year, and so as soon as I realized that we were doing Bible Study again this week, I ran to grab that book to make a hot emulsified egg sauce. So we made a hollandaise-ish sauce. Specifically, with a bit of reduced red wine, pureed sun-dried tomato, and vinegar (instead of the classic lemon juice). It was phenomenal. I imagine some French cuisine purists would probably curse us for what we did to their beloved Sauce Choron – but I tell you what. It was delicious. As only clarified butter can be.
FYI – if you want to make this dish for yourself (which I highly recommend some night when you’ve got a few extra points to spare in your Weight Watchers plan or whatever), consider taking the extra bits of potato (we had some rounded edges because we wanted nice square bits to slide in between our slivers of steak and mushroom), making oven fries, and dipping them in the butter solids that you skimmed off when you clarified the butter. Also pretty amazing. Totally indulgent, and I probably shouldn’t let my doc read this, but so very, very worth it.