Basic Ingredients

The Perfect Poached Egg – plus a little time

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Poached eggs take only a few minutes right?  Why use a 46 minute process?  Repeatability and perfection, that’s why.  You break even the freshest egg into a simmering pot of water and are immediately presented with far reaching wisps of whites clouding up the water.   Give it some time and you have a perfect poached egg every time.

I’ve tried the traditional method for years.  I’ve added vinegar.  I’ve tried the whirlpool.  You can strain your egg to get rid of loose whites before cooking.  Sure it helps, but you still can’t get a well formed egg every time.  Then there’s the timing. Am I over cooking it?  Am I under cooking it enough?  If only I could get a perfect poached egg every time without fuss and worry.

Of course, you can.  The holy grail of the search for the perfect poached egg method is Sous Vide . . . and a little bit of patience . . . okay, maybe a lot of patience.

But can it be that easy?  Of course not.  I’ve seen lots of attempts to poach an egg sous vide.  Frankly, you end up with a lot of the same problems as the traditional method.  I have seen plenty of pictures of poached eggs with perfect yolks and runny, unshaped whites or perfect whites with stiff yolks.  The answer to the perfect poached egg seems elusive even with sous vide.  Enter J. Kenji López-Alt and The Food Lab’s Guide to Slow-Cooked, Sous Vide-Style Egg .  Here is everything you want to know about cooking eggs.  Using the data garnered from Food Labs you can cook perfect yolks and whites every time.  

The poached egg in the photos was cooked sous vide in the shell at 147F for 45 minutes.  This sets up the yoke perfectly, but the white are still a little runny. That is solved by poaching it in water for just 1 min (traditional poaching method: crack the shell and gently drop the egg into simmering water). After the sous vide bath, the whites are firm enough that they hold their shape in the poaching water unlike poaching a raw egg.  The result: a perfectly poached egg.

On service day, you can save yourself some time by cooking the eggs sous vide in advance, chilling them in an ice bath, and refrigeratoring them until needed.  When ready to serve, warm them sous vide at 147F for 15 minutes and then proceed with the poaching.

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Cauliflower Cream

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Cauliflower Cream
Cauliflower Cream

Why cauliflower cream? It’s lower in calories that a Béchamel Sauce. It’s neutral in taste so takes well to additions like cheese. It’s healthy. And it’s different.

I have done quite a bit of experimentation substituting fat-free Greek Yogurt for white sauces with a consistent result: The sauce separates and ends up runny with clumpy cheese. Cauliflower cream solves this issue while remaining fat-free.

I used the above sauce in a Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna. I also plan on using some in a lower calorie Macaroni and Cheese. You can substitute cauliflower cream in any recipe that calls for a white sauce except maybe a gravy.

The process is easy.
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower

Directions:
1) Wash and chop a head of cauliflower.
2) Place cauliflower florets into salted water and bring to a boil.
3) Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender.
4) Drain cauliflower reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid
5) In a food processor, puree cauliflower adding reserved liquid, as needed, to desired consistency

My First Time — Smoking Brisket that is: Saucing

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To sauce or not to sauce; that is the question.  The old-timer Texas brisket fans ate their brisket nekked.  The dry rub and smoke gave the flavor.  My ribs need no sauce, but I have to admit that I often slather on some Dinosaur sauce.  The problem with sauce on brisket is that most of the commercial BBQ sauces are too sweet for brisket.  For brisket, you need savory and to hold off on the excessive heat.  The sauce should compliment the meat.

Sauces are one of those items on which BBQ enthusiasts enjoy disagreeing.  I prefer traditional BBQ sauce for ribs and Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce for pulled pork.  Don’t confuse tomato based North Carolina BBQ sauce with real Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce.  True North Carolina BBQ sauce is simply vinegar infused with red pepper flakes. With pulled pork, add some collards, corn bread and hush puppies and you have heaven on earth.  In Western NC, they add some ketchup to the sauce and you start the slippery slope toward traditional BBQ sauce.

One of the advantages of sauce is that it moistens tough and dry brisket and brisket is difficult to make tender and moist.  To be on the safe side, I prepared some sauce.  But what sauce to prepare?

I decided to try Texas BBQ Juice.  This sauce is inspired by the sauce they make at Cooper’s Old Time Bar-B-Que in Llano, Texas.  This sauce can be used as a mop while cooking and a BBQ sauce when eating.  I’m not mopping, but I am eating.

This is not BBQ sauce as most people think of it.  Most BBQ sauce has a heavy tomato sauce base with plenty of sugar and some spices.  This is a brown sauce which Cooper’s actually refers to as a pepper sauce.

I halved the recipe and replaced the green bell pepper with a poblano for some additional spice and used maple sugar in place of the brown sugar.  I also inadvertently did not half the beer, oh well.  The first taste before it simmered was HOT.  After simmering for 15 minutes, the flavors melded and smoothed out.  It should be even better tomorrow after aging in the frig over night.