Monday, September 28, 2009

An Egg eggs


No two people are exactly a like, as should no two eggs–be exactly alike–Look we would never decide to do a dish around an Egg unless we had discovered extraordinary eggs. Each different and wonderful, Whitmore Farm produces magical eggs that are brown, speckled and sometimes green. The eggs are multiple colors because the Whitmore chickens are varied breeds. Sadly, in the United States there are basically two types of chickens used to produce all commercial eggs–although over 100 breeds exist! All chicken that you eat from mainstream sources in this country is genetically identical and all the eggs are from one of two genetic species. Whitmore raises at least four different varieties: French Maran, Dutch Welsumer, Ameraucana and Delaware breeds.

The feed Whitmore grows chicken with is custom milled at a local grainary. William, the owner who was trained as a biochemist, came up with a feed recipe when he could not recognize all of the ingredients in off the shelf feed. After investigating he found that the commercial feed contained agricultural waste products, which basically means whatever is left over from various agricultural processes. He concocted a recipe after researching literature primarily published between 1910 and 1950, when grass feeding and heritage animals were the norm. Since chickens are omnivores, the feed includes fish as well as soy for protein, corn and wheat. Equally important is a chicken’s access to grasses full of antioxidants such as clover, dandelion and dock. This also accounts for the intense yellow color of the yolk. The chickens are housed in a moveable coop that is literally moved every day. This is so the grass is never over harvested by the chicken, which would result in the chickens walking around on dirt without access to grass to eat. Just because an egg is labeled free range it does not necessarily mean the chicken had access to grasses.

Farmers, gardeners and even those involved in the artisan processing of food (Bev Eggleston) are cheffing, that is to say involved either in the alchemic process of mixture or the skillful process of harvesting (knife skills). If the generating of food is thought of as a creative act, it is hard to think of where the cheffing actually begins or ends. When I receive eggs this amazingly produced through a process that is intensely thought about...How can I, as Chef, take credit that is well deserved elsewhere. Cooking that attempts to take place in a vacuum is either food Science-ing or radical acts of genius and we would not attempt either. It is this reason that we act in concert with others to generate dishes, sometimes using eggs as protein.

On Saturday night we served a poached egg in a tomato broth, walnut oil, sage and a tomato fondant. I made a broth by simmering whole tomatoes, stems included; I wanted to capture the entire distillation of these particular tomatoes. After I got the right concentration of tomatoes while leaving enough liquid to actually poach an egg, I passed the tomatoes, broth and all through a large strainer. Setting aside the broth, I then took the meat of the tomatoes and blitzed them in our Vitamix blender. This made an amazing paste that I passed through a fine sieve into a pot of about the same volume of onions. This tomato paste and onions cooked down for hours until I had a yummy fondant. Then I poached the egg in water (not the tomato broth more below) and when just cooked (no more than two minutes) I placed egg in hot tomato broth and sprinkle with about two strips of finely julienned sage and walnut oil, topped with fondant and served…

I cook the eggs in water and not the broth for I have more control with water without the various acids and so forth in the tomato broth. When these eggs hit the water the proofed up to almost twice the size–And to eat them was to almost eat the texture of bubbled air–They melted in your mouth thereby creating a texture that enhanced the broth, but at the same time allowed for both the flavor of the broth as well as the flavor of the egg to act upon each other textually and flavorfully without synthesizing. That is to say that at no time did you Not know you were eating an egg, as there are many uses of eggs that do just that… Tomato AND Egg AND Walnut Oil AND Sage…

We served with Homemade Walnut Bread AND (Villa da Filicaja) Chianti Superiore 2006 (thanks to Tom Kiszka for his selections)…

2 comments:

Frances said...

Have you ever seen the book Egg -

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Egg/Lyndsay-Mikanowski/e/9782080305503

Gorgeous food fantasy! Think you would love it.

And that egg was just as delicious as you describe it here.

sidra said...

no
i don't know the book...