Photo by David Bishop
I have co-opted this twist on a traditional French appetizer of eggs in aspic, an old-school French charcuterie: the Oeuf en Gelée, as a pretty and tasty starter for Easter dinner. It’s simplicity renders it not only easier to achieve than the traditional and more complex old fashioned versions, it is also more visually successful.
The first part of the quotient is to negotiate making the best tasting and looking “hard boiled eggs” ever. I say hard boiled in jest because they are not boiled and are barely hard, rendering them vibrantly yellow, moist, tender and delicious.
Photo by David Bishop
Most people hard boil eggs thoughtlessly, leaving them overcooked, dry, tasteless, and with an unsightly green sulfurous ring around the perimeter of the yolk. It takes only a little bit of stayed attention to greatly improve these issues.
- Have a large bowl of lightly salted iced water standing by to receive your cooked eggs and stop the cooking in their tracks.
- Put room temperature medium sized eggs covered in slightly salted tap water in a sauce pan or pot and put over medium heat.
- Bring the water to an almost boil, a murmur of a boil, a gently nearly bubbling boil. Pay attention and adjust your heat to make it so.
- Leave it as such for 8 minutes for medium eggs, 9 minutes for large eggs and 10 minutes for extra large eggs. If you are doing lots of eggs at a time, you can test one to make sure it is exactly what you want by plunging one into the ice water and cutting it in 2 two, (without shelling it).
- When you have the desired color, plunge the eggs into the iced water to stop the cooking immediately.
- Roll each egg onto a hard surface to gently crack the shells, and return them to the iced water for at least 15 minutes, letting the water seep into the space between the shell and the membrane. This will enable you to shell the eggs easily.
- Shell each egg carefully to avoid marring the surface of the egg whites.
- Use a thin wire cheese cutter or very sharp thin knife, to slice the eggs length wise.
- At this point you can use the eggs for many things, including deviled eggs and our featured “Jellied Easter Eggs”.
Now for the fun part. I found little old fashioned fluted tin molds that were exactly the right size for medium sized eggs. Traditionally, the molds are boring, straight sided ovals, but I like the fluted chocolate candy molds for such festive occasions.
Look at the size of your eggs compared to the size of your molds, making sure that there is ample space around the eggs so that the Gelée, or Jelly, fills that space so that the eggs don’t touch the edge of the molds. This is why I chose medium sized eggs, which are usually only available in organic, free range eggs, and are also, by the way, more yellow and tasty.
The next steps are the recipe for the Jelly/Gelée.
- For every cup of cold chicken stock, the clearer the better ( I use Kitchen Classics, available at Whole Foods and Food Emporium)) use 2 packets of unflavored gelatine.
- Quickly whisk into the stock, the powdered gelatine, making sure it is entirely wet, and let it plump for a minute or so.
- Either put the solution onto a double boiler or microwave it until the gelatine granules are all completely dissolved.
- Pour a tiny bit of the completely desolved gelatine stock into each mold and let it cool and set a bit before you proceed.
- Take a small graceful sprig of herb, such as thyme, and place it onto the center of the egg yolk and set the egg half into the jelly, cut side down. While holding it down with your finger, add more of the gelatine stock, until it fills the mold, making sure the egg doesn’t rise and separate from the bottom of the mold.
- Once you are sure that the egg and gelatine are in the correct posture, place the molds carefully into a level refrigerator shelf to gel for at least an hour or so.
- Test them with a touch from your finger. They should be quite firm.
- The most intricate part of the process is the un-molding, though it is made easier because the molds are metal, and therefore conduct heat.
- Using a just above body temperature water bath, dip the molds of gelatine, one at a time, into the warm water bath, making sure that the water never, ever excels the top of the mold. You are merely freeing the gelatine molds through tansduction of heat, not flooding it.
- Touch the surface of the gelatine with your finger to test if it is free of the mold. You may have to dip it again into the warm water. If the water is too hot or you dip it too much, you may lose the details of the mold. As soon as you know it is free, turn it over and rap it onto the surface that you wish to deliver it unto.
- Your best devise for having a future choice to the final destination of your mold, is to smear a thinly, finger applied layer of cold water onto the back side of the mold, so that you can slide it onto any surface you desire. Don’t hesitate too long to decide, or the gelatine will impart itself onto whatever you have laid it on, making it difficult to move your creation.
My choice of presentation for this lovely personal appetizer is a bed of Boston or Bibb lettuce, on a small individual dish. You choose accordingly to your own design.
If you are vegan, or want an alternate design, you may apply the same directions to our same molds, with vegetable broth and without the eggs, as seen below. They are tiny, personalized sized molds, incorporating mini veges, and can be just as beautiful, if not more, and savory.
Photo By David Bishop
Whatever you choose, may your life be filled with the joy and happiness of shared time together.