Two years ago, Melissa and I attended “The Second Most Momentous Meeting of Food Bloggers EVER.” We had dinner with the Amateur Gourmet himself, Adam Roberts. You can read the details on his blog, and that dinner makes a cameo in his book.
Two dishes stood out among the many we tried at New York’s Craft restaurant: crunchy, sweet caramel corn and creamy, rich bacon and egg risotto. Melissa told me to take note and make them at home.
But for whatever reason, neither found their way to my stove. Craft even sent us a Christmas card with the caramel corn recipe, and I have yet to make it. But that risotto popped into our heads this weekend, and I gave it a go last night.
Risotto is a snap to make — you can read my technique on SFist — but I thought over this version as I looked at Adam’s picture. How should I incorporate the bacon? How would I get an intact egg yolk onto the rice?
The bacon was easy: I cooked four chopped slices in the bottom of a pot and used the rendered fat to sautée one cup of carnaroli rice. After that, I followed my normal technique, moistening the rice with white wine and broth and finishing the dish with half-and-half and a pat of butter. The chunks of bacon softened without breaking down as they cooked with the rice.
For the golden garnish, I decided to separate the yolk and poach it on its own, without the protective sheath of egg whites that I normally rely on to keep the egg together. As the risotto cooked, I filled a large saucepan with water and brought it to poaching temperature: to the point when visible puffs of steam escape from the pot but well before it boils. I chose a large saucepan so that the egg yolk would have time to cook on its way down. I worried about it breaking as it hit bottom.
I didn’t bother swirling the water or adding vinegar as I normally do for poached eggs. These techniques help the ghost-like billow of egg whites condense into a pretty envelope around the yolk. No egg whites? No need for tricks to make them look nice.
I held my breath as I dropped my two egg yolks, each from its own bowl, into the water. The yolks morphed into spheres and settled onto the bottom of the pot without breaking. I let out my breath.
Then I realized I had a problem. I cook poached eggs based on sight. When the whites look a certain way, the egg’s ready to come out. Oops.
In the end, I just took a guess about when to scoop out the yolks. I gently slid a slotted spoon into the water and under the yolk, slowly lifting it out. The yellow sphere flattened into a golden dome as buoyancy no longer held out against gravity, at first making me think that the entire yolk was about to whoosh through the slots. I wiggled the spoon to dislodge any water, and tipped the yolk onto a waiting bowl of piping hot risotto.
At the table, Melissa and I touched our forks to the yolks and watched them break open, sending yellow-orange liquid all through the bowl. She mixed hers in; I let mine pool and flow over the rice. It was a hearty, rich dish, but we each slurped down our portions. (I saved a little for mini risotto cakes.)
Maybe I should make that caramel corn soon.
Labels: Culinary Explorations, Technique