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November 13, 2019 51 mins

Host Michael Ruhlman hears stories and tips about the egg, from chef Eric Ripert's disastrous first attempt at a classic egg sauce to Kenji Lopez-Alt's boiled egg experiments. And finally, Brian Polcyn makes Hollandaise sauce the old-fashioned way: by hand.


Special thanks to our guests Eric Ripert, Kenji Lopez-Alt, and Brian Polcyn.


Books mentioned in this episode:


Eric Ripert's "32 Yolks": https://www.amazon.com/32-Yolks-Mothers-Table-Working-ebook/dp/B01208NZZG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=eric+ripert+32&qid=1573612040&s=books&sr=1-1


Eric Ripert's "A Return to Cooking": https://www.amazon.com/Return-Cooking-Michael-Ruhlman/dp/1579653936/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=eric+ripert+a+return+to+cooking&qid=1573612058&s=books&sr=1-1


Kenji Lopez-Alt's "The Food Lab": https://www.amazon.com/Food-Lab-Cooking-Through-Science/dp/0393081087


Michael Ruhlman's new book "From Scratch": https://www.amazon.com/Scratch-Meals-Recipes-Dozens-Techniques/dp/1419732773

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
In nineteen eighty two, and ambitious seventeen year old cook
named Eric had just finished a European culinary training program.
At the time, there were exactly eighteen restaurants in France
that had three stars from the Michelin Guide. You write
letters and only one answer. The restaurant that answered was

(00:31):
La Tour d'argent en eighty two latis four hundred years old,
already a four year old restaurant in the fifth Arndissement,
the heart of Paris, noted in the works of Hemingway
and Proust, whose dining room looks out on the cathedral
Notre Dame on the Ile de la Sete. I received

(00:53):
a call on a Friday, Ida, where I was living,
which is a tiny contributeween France and and Spain. I
have a call. It's the chef of the phone and
he says to me, you know, we have a job
for you. You send a letter, And so I asked,
when can I start. It's Friday afternoon, It's aid Monday perfect.

(01:14):
I packed my suitcase, my parents bought an airline ticket.
I end up in Paris. I take the subway for
the first time in my life. I got out at
Pont Marie, which is the closest to land. And then
I walk on that bridge and I see the building
and I'm like terrorized and I'm walking. Everything is slow,

(01:37):
Everything is like a movie. The restaurant is within a
six story building made of smooth yellow stone on a
busy street along the river sand And for a young
chef from the hinterlands newly arrived in the Teeming city,
it was forbidding. I go to the restaurant. It's a

(01:58):
staircase that is probably fo hundred years old as well,
that goes up to the kitchen. The cook said, go
to the floor below, get change, come back and come back.
And I'm waiting for my I am in a fish station.
I didn't you don't know, but you always wind up
on the fish stage. I don't know why. It is destiny.
And then I'm waiting for this guy, Maurice, and he says, well,

(02:20):
I'm going to change, start to cut some shallotts, and
I'm sure, and I cut my finger and I go
see him in the locker room and as for a
band aid is not happy. Then he asked me later on,
I mean, give me some easy tasks. And then he
asked me to make a no long this and it's
a disaster. Had you made a Houn days before, I

(02:44):
think once in culinary school, just once I made, or
maybe twice, but you may, you may. You make it
with two egg yolks or three. It's thirty two yolks.
So first you clarify your better, obviously, and then you
have to emulsify those thirty two yolks. You know, it's
v and it's in a in a copper pen and

(03:04):
it's not in a beamary is on top of the store,
and that store is made of cast iron and it's red.
It's like red, and you got a metal ball on
top of the metal iron with the pen. You go
up and you you go on top. You come back, yeah,
and you whish and you wish. I make scrambled legs

(03:24):
and they look at me and they think I'm a lunatic,
or they don't. They're like, who are you? This is
their reaction, and I'm like American. They're like, how old
are you? I'm seventeen. And they look at me and
they cannot believe I am in a three star restaurants
trying to make an on this, and so therefore they

(03:45):
give me a Chairville to pick and I don't know
what chairvill is, and it goes on and on and
on that day, and I'm like they were they were
going to fire me tonight. Stick around to find out
if this young chef actually made something of himself. Welcome

(04:16):
to From Scratch. My name's Michael Rohlman. I've spent the
last twenty years in professional kitchens, writing about and with
the world's best chefs. From Scratch is a podcast about cooking.
In each episode, we'll talk with one chef and one
non chef about the same theme. The great thing about
the cooking life is that you never stop learning. In

(04:39):
this show, I want to go to the edges of
what I know and then go beyond together with you,
with all chefs, home cooks, and everyone who cares about
food and cooking. Today's theme is the egg. We'll be
talking with three chefs and experts on this extraordinary ingredient
from old world techniques, modern scientific understanding, and experimentation. Eric

(05:04):
Repair is one of our country's great chefs. I met
him in two thousand to work on his book Returned
to Cooking. Already he had worked with some of the
world's great chefs. Joel Robuchon, then Jean Louis Palladin and
had taken over the four star seafood Temple La Bernardin
in Midtown Manhattan. Since then, it has maintained four New

(05:26):
York Times Stars and three Michelin Stars, the highest accolades
in the industry. His memoir is called thirty two Yokes,
a fascinating story about his journey in the cooking world.
Why why did you call the book thirty two yolks
because of that moment? Why does that? Why does it
mean something? What does it mean? Yorks mean two things.

(05:46):
It's my first task basically, after the first real task,
real task, I cannot muster that tusk. I cannot make
an olandez with thirty two yolks. And then it means
also at one point, a few weeks later, maybe a
month later, I'm able to make analon days with thirty

(06:06):
two yolks. So it's a defining moment in my career
because from being this lousy kid who's really trying hard
and he's annoying everyone in the kitchen and he doesn't
have the physical capabilities to make an alan days with
thirty two yolks, and knowledge and so on, suddenly I
turned I'm starting to become a young professional cook, not

(06:26):
a students from the culinary school who thought that with
his graduation degree would be able to save lad repairs.
Current restaurant. They use eggs from many different animals in
creative ways. The eggs are very versatile because they're not
necessarily only from chicken. They can come from other animals

(06:48):
and the lobster, and you have different applications. Also, of
course there's fish eggs. No. Just as Cavier, I love
career like aspoonful of at least well, you gotta taste
professionals exactly. But a taste for fine ingredients wasn't the
reason Eric was obsessed with getting in define dining. Why

(07:10):
are you determined to be in a mission on three
start of the toughest? Because I was interested, fascinated by
fine dining. I didn't want to be in a bistro.
Not like it's bad or I'm not judgmental, but it
was not for me. I wanted to do fine dining.
I wanted to be in a brigade. I wanted to

(07:32):
be able to work with ingredients that were mystical and
still are mystical to the electoral folds and and things
like that. I wanted to deliver this very special experience.
And it's why I was looking at those restaurants. You
wanted to work with mystical ingredients you name the trafl
For me, the egg has that same kind of mysticism

(07:53):
toward it. It's a beautiful shape, you know, it's a
gorgeous shape. It has contained all the things that we
need to create life all inside it. Yes, it's poor.
It's about delicate and sturdy. Yes, it's poor us yes, um.
And it has so many users. I wrote a whole
book about it. Yes, I'm just curious about your thoughts
about the egg. Do you like eggs? Yeah? I love eggs.

(08:14):
I love eggs for many reasons. By the way, do
you know that if you take an egg in between
two fingers, like a like a chicken egg in two
fingers and you squeeze, it doesn't break. You can't break it.
You cannot break it. You can be Tarzan, you can
be Superman. Any strengths won't break the egg. Really, you cannot.
Have never tried that. You just this is this a

(08:35):
gag to get me to break an egg? I'm not working.
I mean, if you want after the podcast, we can try,
and I'm telling you you're gonna be amazed. You can
try at Tom when you go back home. You put
your tomb under the egg and the index on top. Top.
Can you try? Don't try on the sides on the side,
of course, side it's easy. But like that, do you

(08:57):
know what that is? It's just I don't know, it's
it's I'm not an expert in physics. If if I was,
I wouldn't be a UM. But anyway, eggs are You're right.
They are very mystical and mysterious and very versatile in cooking,
which is it's something that is rare to have an

(09:18):
ingredient like like the egg that can do so many things. Um,
what are you some of your favorite applications of vigor?
The coolest stuff you like to do with eggs? Well,
I love sabayon because I love to see the transformation
of the egg yolk into a cloud. So to me,
it's sabayon. It's it's something beautiful to see. But I
love to watch suffles rising and suffles. It's eggs, right,

(09:42):
I mean it's egg whites and the egg yolks with
another ingredient. And then you look at them and the
rise and and if you succeed, it's it's beautiful. If
you don't, it looks it looks really bad. Um. But
I like to make omelets. I like to make scrambled eggs.
I like sunny side up. I like all all kinds
of methods to cook eggs for breakfast. I mean, you

(10:03):
imagine in between a hard boiled egg and potch egg
and scrambled egg and omelet. And let's suppose you eat
egg Benny diets and you have to make these on
this I mean it's already for breakfast. We use the
eggs in five different forms. I grew up in the
nineties seventies with my mom teaching me Julia Child's method.

(10:26):
I went to culinary school to learn their method. But
I wanted to find out how one of the oldest
restaurants in the world did it. Walk me through a
classical to the Harmonday's classical thirty two eggs. You clarify
the eggs, you give the butter. No, no, well, yes,
I'm sorry, you separate. I'm sorry you separate the eggs.

(10:48):
You give the egg whites to the bestage depraft bands.
They make macaroons and suffle and things like that. You
keep the yolks um while while the butter is clarifying.
The better is in a big pen close to the
stove and you're skimming the better and you're just The
butter never boils or the better just melt slowly, slowly

(11:10):
becomes translucent, the petill how you call it, in the white.
The solids go down, the oil of the butter, I
mean the oil part of the butter stays up. And
then when it's completely clarified, which is divided right separated
with a little you take all the top clarified after top.

(11:30):
That's yes, that is how you do it. The thirdly,
two egg yolks are in another pen. It's a saucepan
made of copper. It's not a ball. It has a
handle and it's a big suspend. You could put like
a gallon of liquid in it easily, and you have
a big whisk and you have to. So you put
a bit of water in the egg yolks just to
start the emulsion. Tiny bit of water, not too much,

(11:52):
because if not, it takes forever to make the sabayon
because the water has to evaporate tin. A bit of
salt on the beginning, and then you start to make
an eight in the eggs when you whisk with the figure.
And why is that because supposedly it helps the emulsion
of the egg yolks with a bit of water that
you put and it makes your sabayon very light. At

(12:16):
the same time, it's gonna go much faster in the process,
so it's gonna take only twenty five minutes instead of
much more. And it builds with a lot of strength,
so that sabayon will be very strong. And when you're
gonna start to incorporate the clarified butter, eat the sabayon,

(12:36):
first you make the sabbay which is cooking the yorks
and cooking folks. They have to be very fluffy. And
at the end, you know your sabayon is ready when
you see eight, or you can see the still see
the pattern when you do with the the whisk, you
see the eight in the pen. And also the pen
moves like you move your rotate your pen, which means

(12:56):
that the eight is not always in the same angle
getting all the sides, and you're going to all the sides,
and the eight helps you also to go everywhere in
the pen, so it's It has two reasons. One is
to emacify better, and one is to not forget any
part of the egg yolks in the pen. Then you

(13:17):
incorporate slowly the clarified better, and you still mix. You
don't have to mix with the eight anymore. Then you
incorporate your better until you have the right consistency. The
right consistency is basically like almost like a mayonnaise consistency.
And you finished the seasoning a bit of cayenne was

(13:38):
important at the time, and you let it rest somewhere
close to the store, like in one of the shelves,
and you have that for a couple of hours. And
although Eric got start at a restaurant which might have
begun in the sixteenth century, it's not averse to using
modern technology to avoid the trauma of making a traditional
hound is. No, I don't like machines, but I'll tell

(13:59):
you it's a them. It's better than the regular hol
on this. Yeah, you know why? Why? Because you're using
all the butter. You don't have to separate the butter.
So I don't separate the butter anyway, I don't. You
don't separate the butter. It doesn't last if you want
your old on this to last few hours, you have
to separate the butter. It will hold the emotion. I mean, yeah,

(14:20):
it doesn't hold the emersion because the water of the
butter make it loose, and you know, so it doesn't hold.
But when you make it in a blender, suddenly because
of it's so strong, right in a blender. So at
the restaurant you're holding your hound is for three or
four hours. Yeah, but we don't talk out on this.
And now thanks to invention, you can bypass the manual

(14:43):
labor it used to require for a hound is and
make it in a blender or food processor like a
robot coupe. And you put the egg yolks in a blender.
You can put a bit of water, salt, pepper, or cayenne,
whatever you want. You melt your butter in a pen.
While the butter is very hot, you pour the better
slowly on top of the eggs, and of course the
blender is working not not very fast on the beginning,

(15:06):
slowly because you don't want to have egg yolks all
over the kitchen. So you go slow, and you're adding
and adding and adding your your butter hot and you
have an Orlandez that has the benefit of having the
entire burtter, not only the whole butter, not only the
clarified better and that Toland is because of the strength
of the machine, will be very very tight and can

(15:31):
last for a long long time. I don't know. I
just don't like the ideas. I have to tell you.
On the beginning, I didn't like the idea. And then
at one point I don't remember what we were doing
at lebernar Dam, but we need it all on this
and we did it. And when I saw the results,
I was amazed by the difference. And actually I doubt
it the quality of the result in in a blender

(15:55):
or the process food processor, and I compared with the
one made by end and it was ten times better
because of the texture, the lightness, the texture. It's something,
it's something. This is Eric's way of saying that he
cooks by feel and intuition. He knows it to be true.
He can act confidently on that knowledge without being able

(16:17):
to explain the exact underlying chemistry or physics, because the
technique is now in his bones. Eric cooks from experience
and from his soul. When we come back, we're talking
with someone who knows these reasons and can take a
more scientific approach to great cooking. Kenji Lopez Alt Kenji

(17:08):
Lopez Al began as a student of architecture, but moved
into the world of the cook working for some of
Boston's best chefs, Barbara Lynch and ken Oranger. He took
a position working for America's Test Kitchen, then moved on
to become a columnist for the site Serious Eats, where
he was able to fully embrace his inner food nerd.

(17:28):
He's going on to write the amazing and best selling
book The Food Lab. Continues his work with Serious Eats
from his home in San Mateo, California, and is now
a calumnist for The New York Times. On top of
all that, he's the chef and co owner of Verst
Hall and San Mateo, which is a California sausage haven
and beer hall. A man after my own loves. You know,

(17:51):
where did this love of combining the scientific method with
food and cooking come from? Can you tell us a
little bit of your your trajectory? Yeah, I mean, well,
to be honest, you, I mean to be honest, you
had to you and your books had a big role
in that because UM. You know, I remember like when
I in one of my first restaurant jobs, UM in Boston,
I was reading your book UM in the locker room,
and like a couple of the other cooks came in

(18:12):
and they're like asking me, what what do you think
of that book? And I was like, I was like,
I think it's pretty great. And then and I remember
one of them being like, yeah, it's good, but that
guy's kind of a dork, isn't he. And I was
like I was like, yeah, that's what I like about it,
you know, UM, because it was a pretty unique sort
of analytical approach to food that you know, guys like
people like you, Jeffrey Steinarden, you know, and then of
course Shirley Courrier and UM and McGee and and all

(18:35):
of them Um UM had a sort of different taken
on food that that I really appreciated. UM. And then,
you know, when when Alton Brown came around and he
was tearing it up in the Food Network and people
were really getting the food science. UM, that's sort of
when I sort of I started thinking, hey, you know what,
like maybe science and food is actually a career trajectory
that I could pursue. What is it about you that

(18:57):
that pushes you these crazy limits? And we're to talk
about a very good example of that happened resent Well.
I mean a lot of it is just sort of
a natural inclination to want to discover what what the
truth is, you know. And and in cooking, there's a
lot of stuff that's not truth, you know, there's a
lot of stuff that is just passed on information and
and a lot of those things like they'll get you

(19:18):
good results, but they won't really sort of tease apart
what exactly is happening. Um. And if you want sort
of full control over you know, yourself in the kitchen
and over your food, then you, um, you know, the
more you understand what's happening um at a you know,
at a basic level, um, the more control you have. UM.
So you know, I guess what with me? It's like
books like McGee and Courier, Um, I love them um um,

(19:41):
but they're difficult to apply to home cooking. It's it's
difficult for the average home cook to take the information
those books and apply it to their cooking. Um. And
so that's always sort of been my approach is like
the primary goal is to help home cooks, UM, and
then the science is kind of just folded into that. UM.
But but the goal is always to sort of, um,
approach it from a perspective that, like, there has to
be something in what I'm writing right now that's going

(20:02):
to actually give people, um, something they can use in
their kitchen every day. UM. That that's I love that.
I love that. I want to do that too. I
think we're taught that cooking is hard and it's not.
And the more you understand technique, as you know, I'm
all about technique. You know one technique, then you know
how you know a thousand recipes. Um, But I love
stuff that you come up with, like sensibly adding um,

(20:24):
gelatin too a meat loaf rather than veal uh to
me look or to stock if you're gonna make if
you want to make a pan sauce and all you
have a store about stock, like a little bit of
powdered gelatin added to that stock before you make your
pant sauce can get you that really, you know, that
restaurant quality sort of rich texture to a pant sauce.
This episode of from Scratches all about the egg and
it's because you know, I love the egg. The egg

(20:47):
is one of the most versatile. It's a miracle in
the kitchen. It's a miracle of economy, delicious, nous, versatility.
Can you talk about what what your personal thoughts are
on the egg and its versatility and why you love Yeah,
I mean, well for all the reasons you listed. Actually,
you know when I was when I was an architecture student, UM,
this is one of the moments that I've just that

(21:08):
I realized that I should probably be a cook. When
I was an architecture student, UM, one of our studio classes,
we were one of our projects. We were all asked
to bring in UM do a presentation on something that
fascinated us. I don't remember what the exact project was,
but everyone we we were doing our presentations and everyone
brought in all these architects and designers UM and I
actually just made krem Broulet for everyone and talked about

(21:28):
UM about how interesting it is that like Cremberley is
made from an egg. It's like the same thing that
you fry, It's the same thing that you can make
calling days out of. It's like this confusedly versatile thing.
I mean, so I end up talking like doing this
half our presentation about eggs to my architecture class. And
that was when my architecture professor came over to me
after meiss like can't you like why, like why, like
why aren't you why aren't you why aren't you a cook?

(21:49):
Like you obviously want to be a cook. And then
and then you know, that's sort of that was one
of those moments when I realized, yeah, um, and and
it was the egg. And you know, for the reasons
you listed, it's just incredible. You know, it's incredible how
diverse it is and what and what you can do
with it and and just by you know, and it's
and it's all things that you can do at home
with like the tools you have in your kitchen. You
can get this like endless variety of different results. You

(22:11):
can get foamy things, you can get creamy things, you
can get fudgie things. You know, you can get crispy things,
and and it's all just by treating it a little
bit differently in your kitchen. So um, you know, I
don't think there's any better tool than an egg for
sort of demonstrating, um, the importance of technique and science
in the kitchen. Um, because there's so much science involved.
It's all relatively simple science because it's it's a you know,
it's a it's an ingredient. We're all familiar with um,

(22:33):
and we're relatively familiar with how it reacts to things
um um, you know. And then and then so much technique.
You know, like the the measure for like a good
French cook is still how well they make an omelet um.
And it's because you know, eggs, um. Perfect eggs require
you know, they're they're they're simple ingredient, but perfect eggs
just require perfect technique. UM. So that that that sort
of idea, that combination of science and this pursuit of

(22:54):
perfection and the idea that you can like practice and
this endlessly with eggs and always get better at them
um at think is really um. Yeah, I mean that
that's what makes eggs important to me. Can you tell me?
Can you describe the egg physically chemically, the different structural
components of the white and the yolk? Yeah? I mean, well, well,
an egg is mostly water, um, all parts of it,

(23:15):
even the yolk. UM. I had this misconception and I
was a kid that egg yolks are mostly fat, but
they're not. They're mostly water like like the rest of
the egg um um. And you know there's basically there
there's if you want to super simplifier, there's there's like
basically three parts to it. Right There's there's the there's
the sort of white that's encased in the sac um.
Then there's the like the sort of thick white. Then
there's the white that's outside of that fact sack, the

(23:35):
thin white that's the stuff that kind of spreads out
in the pan when you fry an egg. Um. And
then there's the sack of the of the yolk um um,
you know, and then there's some sort of there's some
subtle substructures in there. You know, there's the things called chalas,
which which keep the yolks centered in the in the
middle of the egg. Those get weaker over time, so
you know, older eggs, the yolks will be less centered
when you boil them. Um. But you know, essentially, like
the egg, white is made of water and protein um

(23:57):
a number of proteins. You know, um, what are they?
Off the top of my head, I mean obviously like
oval bumin um of a musin ova transfer and I
think those are like the big the big ones um
and those are the Those are the things that kind
of um react to various cooking techniques. So when you
whip them, they tend to um tangle up with each
other and form this kind of protein network that supports

(24:18):
meringues and foams. UM. If you cook them, they they
coagulate and they turn firm um um, you know. And
then an egg yoke also has a lot of protein
in it um, a lot of fat, and a lot
of water. UM. The other important thing that in ag
yolk is has is um less with thin, which is
um an emulsifier UM. So it's essentially um a molecule
that has a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic and so it
attracts both water and um oil. So it's very important

(24:41):
in in preparations where you need oil and water to
mix UM, like in mayonnaise or like in holidays. Let's days.
Let's talk about that. Talk us through that, talk us
through in multification. Well, so a multification is basically um a.
It's anytime you take two liquids that don't generally mix
UM and force them to mix and form stable third
liquid UM. So UM in in in the kitchen, like

(25:03):
common emulsions are are milk, milk, is an emulsion there
because they homogenize it, so the fat is emulsified into
the water. UM cream is an emulsion. UM. Mayonnaise is
an emulsion of oil and water. Holandaise is an emulsion
of oil and water and basically um. So if you
when you combine um, oil and water in a say
you're making a vineigrette, and you pour oil and water
into oil and vinegar vinegars mostly water, so we'll just

(25:24):
call it water oil and water in a measuring cup,
and you mix them up with time, you'll find that
the oil droplets kind of coal leesce, the water droplets
coal ess and they eventually separate um um. And that's
because oil oil droplets are attracted to our. Our our
hydro hydrophobic. That means they're repelled by water and attracted
to themselves. Other fat molecules and water molecules are hydrophilic.
They're attracted to water molecules. They tend to not get along.

(25:45):
Emulsions happen in three ways, mechanically, through viscosity and chemically.
The hollandaise uses all three the force of whisking, the
viscosity of cooked egg, and chemically via lesser than essentially
what has happening is those lesser than molecules embed themselves
in the fat molecules and the water molecules, keeping them

(26:06):
both separate. As long as you have enough water in
the mix, the oil droplets won't be able to coalesce
and leave you with the broken sauce. So hollandaise, hollandaise,
and the mayonnaise. You know, UM use sort of all
three of these means, like you you need mechanical whipping
in a hollandaise to get it to multified properly. UM.
You need that less of them from the egg yoke
to give to add sort of strength to the emulsion UM.

(26:27):
And then the final the final sort of a multifying agent.
And it's it's a little bit looser um in because
it's not an actual thing. Is um anything that adds
sort of thickness or viscosity UM, So that could be
UM in the case of a hollandaise, that's um heating
up the egg, heating up the eggs and heating up
the eggs UM and starting to coagulate those proteins. UM
that adds viscosity. What do you what do you? How

(26:48):
do you tell home cooks who might be a little
trepidacious about this whole process. Uh, how do you how
do you tell them to make a multified sauce? Well,
I think, I mean, I think the you know, the
main thing is just it's just just to get rid
of get rid of your fear. Like really realize that
at the end of the day, you know, it's it's
you know, most of the people who are going to
be making it a multi sauce, they're not they're not

(27:08):
eating out of subsistence right there, eating in some form
or another for pleasure. And so at the end of
the day, if if your sauce doesn't work, you know,
what's what's the worst that can happen? You know, you
you you serve a broken sauce, and so what you
get it better next time? But you know, I think
I think really just just sort of put pushing yourself
a little bit, um, you know, keeping a notebook also
and and really paying attention to what you did last
time and which and what you what you wanted, what

(27:29):
what questions you have and what you can experiment. Um,
you know, it's really easy to design your own experiments
at home and it's not really that big of a
risk usually, Um, you know, like I wouldn't recommend going
out and experimenting on your prime rib for Christmas. Um,
But you know, if you experiment with eggs, you know,
it's a few cents and egg and and most of
the time the results are going to be edible with
anyway and edible anyway. So so so why not, you know,

(27:50):
why not start there? Um something. It's really it's just
it's just a matter of like putting yourself in the
right mindset and realizing that these questions are interesting. And
at the end of the day, it's only food. It's like, know,
as long as it's edible, it's like he's doing his job.
This past September two, nineteen, Kenji published in The New

(28:12):
York Times the result of his most elaborate test yet,
cooking nearly a thousand eggs and with the help of volunteers,
he endeavored to answer a single question, what is the
best way to boil an egg? It was, in his words,
the largest ever double blind egg boiling and peeling experiment

(28:36):
in the history of the universe. Tell me about your
egg experiment For the most recent iteration, um um. I
wanted to basically just get as much data as I
possibly could, so we did UM around a thousand eggs,
close to a thousand eggs, UM over a hundred or
close to a hundred I remember the exact number, but
around a hundred volunteers who came into my restaurant over
the course of a couple of days. What were you

(28:57):
looking for here, um, so a number of things. So
so what we measured UM in the peel ability testing UM.
We measured how long it took people to peel each
egg on average UM, so that that was sort of
like a you know, how how how difficult it is
to peel the egg UM. We asked them also subjectively
to rate the eggs, to rank the eggs in order
of difficulty UM of peeling UM. And then after that

(29:18):
we went over each egg and counted the number of
sort of small imperfections, so like little divots and stuff,
and large imperfections, which is where like if the white
completely cracked off or or there was like a really
big divot UM. So we we counted all that data
um uh with the idea that UM, you know, to
to figure out what method makes it easiest UM to
peel to get perfectly peeled boiled eggs UM. And then

(29:41):
after that. We also did a bunch of taste tests, UM,
which were done blindfolded UM. And the tastests were done
to basically determine what factors affect the flavor and texture
UM of the of the final egg. UM. So as
as it turned out, the you know, the main factor
that affects UM how easy an egg to peel is.
How easy it is to peel a boiled egg is
the is whether you started hot or started cold. So

(30:03):
if you put it into cold water or into a
cold steamer and bring it and slowly heat it up,
which a lot of recipes recommended, it was actually a
method I recommended for a long time. There's a much
much higher chance that the egg is going to stick
to the shell when you try and peel it. UM.
Whereas if you put it into already boiling water or
into a steamer that's already preheated and full of steam, UM,
then it makes the eggs much easier to peel. UM.

(30:24):
That that's basically the only real factor UM that that
makes a difference. UM. The the age of the egg
didn't actually make too much of a difference, which I
thought it would. We used eggs, you know, I actually
called UM I managed to get about a hundred eggs
from backyards around around my neighborhood. UM just called called neighbors,
called up a bunch of people egg growers and you know,
people with backyard flocks. Um. And so I got eggs

(30:45):
that were like literally laid the day before. Um, and
they peeled just as easily as eggs out that Yeah,
and that had been month old. That had been a
common belief that the fresh that's fresh of the egg,
the herder was to peel. Yeah, not true. Yeah I
thought that too. But um, but know, a hundred eggs
of data like it made a tiny difference, but nothing
that would nothing compared to the difference you know that

(31:06):
the temperature makes. And I was a little disappointed that
there wasn't a sure fire method. You say, even what
you just recommended, it will always work either. Well, yeah,
so the method I recommended, so that the final method
I recommend is steaming. So I I heat up about
an inch of water in the bottom of a small saucepan.
You know something that basically just fits the number of
eggs you want to cook. Um, you eat about an
inch of water to a boil um with a heavy

(31:27):
lid and then you put the eggs in it. Um.
You can lower them in with a steamer basket if
you want to be a little more gentle. But but
I just play some straight in the bottom of the pot. Um.
So they're kind of half submerged, but not really fully submerged.
They don't crack, they don't ee um. So it depends. Yeah,
it depends where. You know, some eggs are more prone
to have thinner shells and are more more prone to cracking. UM.

(31:47):
So yes, I have had some eggs cracked. UM. If
that's something that happens too commonly, then you can use
that little trick or you take the pushpin um and
push it into the fat end of the egg. And
what causes that to happen is basically the little air
space in the fat end of the egg um that expands. UM.
You know, the water, the liquid and side doesn't really
expand much, but the the air in there does expand
a lot, and it expands rapidly, and that's kind of

(32:08):
what causes that cracking at the beginning weight Like when
you first lower the eggs into hot water, that shock
of expansion. UM. So if you if you put that
little pin prick um in the fat end and you
give that air um uh an avenue of escape, then
you you kind of eliminate that cracking problem. Um. And
it also actually gets rid of that divid you know
if if you if you boil a whole, like you
get that divid in the fat end where the air
space was. Um, it eliminates that also because all the

(32:29):
the egg filling kind of fills up, you know, the
white kind of fills up all that space, so you
get like a perfectly round egg when you do that.
I was also really interested in the texture of the white.
And you're talking about the the impact of the various
cooking methods on the texture of the white of the egg. Yeah.
So so egg whites, you know, just like just like meat,
sort of the higher the temperature you cook them to,

(32:49):
the more firm they get. Um. And so if you
really cook it, you know, like my wife, um likes
she likes to boil her eggs for like half an hour. Um.
It's just something she grew up with. And and the
egg whites are like, I mean, they're rubber, they get
really really hard, um, you know, and that's that's fine.
She wants to do that, that's her I won't eat them.
But um but um. So basically, you know, the hot
of the egg whites get, the firmer they get. So

(33:11):
a lot of people recommend, for instance, using a pressure
cooker um to cook your eggs. Um. And I found
that it does make eggs that are not quite as
easy to peel as steamed eggs, because it does take
some time for the pressure to the heat to build
up in a pressure cooker. UM. So they peel pretty well, um,
very well in fact, but um. But the problem with
pressure cooked eggs I find is that if you compare
them side by side with eggs that were just steamed, um,

(33:33):
they're they're significantly tougher. The whites are significantly tougher. And
you know, it's it's one of those things where if
all you eat is pressure cooked eggs, you're probably not
gonna notice it. And so if you're happy with that method,
just like, keep doing it. But you know, once you
do a sort of side by side comparison, the difference
becomes pretty clear. Um. You know. And so for me personally,
like I find it easier to to use I find
it faster and easier and more reliable to just steam

(33:54):
them than to use the pressure cooker, and I think
the results end up better as well. Um. If you
really want to get sort of nitpicky um when you're
boiling your eggs, what you can do is you can boil,
you can you can plunge them into boiling water, UM,
let them cook for you know, thirty seconds or so,
so sort of set that very exterior um, and then
reduce the water down to sort of a bare stimmer
like a degrees like really really really you know, single

(34:15):
bubbles um and let and um, and extend the cooking
time by a couple of minutes um, and then you'll
sort of get a hard boiled egg where the whites
are are even you know, soft, even more tender than
if you boil them straight through steam them straight through. UM.
You know. I find that level of attention to detail
is maybe you know, something you might do at like
the French laundry, but not when I'm making breakfast at home. UM,

(34:38):
And I never worry about stuff like that at home.
So but you have you have determined um for all time,
apparently the best way to hard cooking egg. Well, well,
the thing about the thing about science is you can
never say for all time, because who knows what what
what future data is going to show. But UM, I
will I. I think I have a pretty strong UM

(35:00):
theory here. UM. But I will always UM, I will
always submit to future data, and I always be willing
to change my mind if if it shows otherwise. And
in in thirty seconds, tell me how you how you
hard cooking egg? I have to point out here that Kenji,
true to his maniacal devotion to accuracy, actually nails this
description in thirty seconds. All right. I boil an inch

(35:20):
of water in a small saucepan. U A pan that
hit just fits the number of eggs I want to cook.
I bring it to a boil, I lower my eggs
into it. I put a lid on it, and then
I cook them well seven minutes for medium tend to
leven minutes for hard. Um, and that's it. I take
them out. I I peeled them under cool running water.
I don't ice bath them. I'm actually found that ice
bath actually makes it a little bit harder to peel them. Um.
If you want to save them for future use, I

(35:42):
just put him straight back into the carton, hot on
the counter and let him kind of cool on the counter. UM.
And that's it lest do you think Kenji is all
science and no heart. He has another wonderful project in
the works, one that's more art than science, more storytelling

(36:03):
than lab reports. Now, Kenji, this was really surprising. Maybe
I'm delighted you have a children's book coming out. I do, Yeah,
tell me about that. How did that happen and what
is it? Well, it happened because I had a daughter
and I wanted I wanted to write a book for her.
And then I was like, oh, maybe this idea is
good enough that it that it could be a book
for everyone. Um. The book is called Every Night Is
Pizza Night? Um. And it's it's a it's a story book,

(36:26):
an illustrated story storybook. UM. So I'm working with an illustrator,
Gianna Riggero. She's wonderful. Um. It's about a little girl
who thinks that pizza is the best food in the world,
and therefore I won't eat won't eat anything else, to
the to the you know, to the distress of her
her parents. Um. And so through the course of the book,
she meets a bunch of people and eventually tries new

(36:46):
foods and realizes that, um, you know, there are many
different meanings to the word best, and that that just
because something is what you think saying is the best,
doesn't mean that it has to be the only thing
in your life. A lovely story that sounds great. When's
it coming out? I'm aiming for Father's Day of next year,
although I think I've heard them maybe it'll be Fall
of Anctuer definitely this coming year. Either Father's Day or

(37:07):
or by the fall excellent. I hope it's Father's Day
that would be perfectly appropriate to all right, Kenji, again,
I admire your work, no end um. You're you're kind
of insane in the best kind of way. And uh,
you're really talented at what you do. And the food
world is grateful for your work, and I'm grateful that

(37:27):
you took the time and to talk today every one
of those things as well. It has been great. Thanks
so much, Thank you, Kenji. When we come back, we're
making Holliday sauce the old fashioned way by hand with
chef Brian Paulson. Welcome back to an other cooking segment

(38:01):
from my home kitchen in my apartment here in New
York's West Village. Chef Brian Poulson has joined me again
this time to make a hollandaise sauce by hand, the
old fashioned way. Brian, thank you so much for coming
back to my kitchen to uh do a little demo.
Here we were talking with Eric Repair about the egg
and its fersatility and and his own Hollidays experience, and uh,

(38:23):
I wanted a very important part of the kitchen. Tell
me why well, obviously because it's so versa it. I mean,
you wrote whole book on it. But I mean think
about what it does. The yolk is got fat in it,
The egg white has albumen. It can act as a
lemaning agent. It can act as a binder. The egg
whites as a binder. The egg whites whipper are as
a lemaning agent for su flav for instance, hard cooking

(38:43):
excellent for you know, of course hard boiled eggs, but
even for sauces hard boiled egg sauces like the famous
sauce Kurbach, you couldn't make it without the egg. Now
we're here to make hollandaise sauce. One of my favorite
sauces and multified sauce uses egg yolks. And you're tell
me about your your how do you do a hollandaise
because when I was in culinary school, I was taught

(39:04):
to make a shell at vinegar reduction with peppercorns, you
could the mother sauces hollidaise. So it starts with egg yolks,
splash of water which helps to the emulsion occur lemon
juice for acid and salt, and then ask cooked over
water water bad double boiler, and then off the fire
you add uh clarified butter or melted butter. Now reduction

(39:29):
it would be like a Tarragin reduction would be a
baron as sauce, right, basically a holliday So the concept
of this sauce is the basse sauce. Once you understand
the principle of making holidaise, you can make sauce sharone.
You know. Of course, baron Aise is a classic French sauces,
all based on the hollandaise, and the hollandaise principle is emotions.
So and he's right, and it's the reason I love

(39:51):
fundamental technique and the mother's sauces. Well, there is some
debate whether or not a hollandaise should be a mother sauce.
In my mind it is because this basic technique of
the emulsified butter sauce can give us those other great sauces.
As Brian says, the burnet's my favorite sauce sauce sharone,
which is a burnets with tomato, and adding blood, orange,

(40:12):
zest and juice turns the hollandaise into a Maltese sauce.
Adding gloss to vian makes it a sauce foyo, and
adding whipped cream makes it a mussoline sauce. Now have
you always been great at megan hollandaise? I have to
admit no. I mean I'm only been cooking forty years.
But when i first started my mentors European chef Milos,
and I had been cooking for seven years. I'm like,

(40:34):
you know, twenty five years old, and in this very
classic European style kitchen, and Milos says to me, make
meal twelve ye old columnbise on the fly, which means
in the kitchen, you better hurry your ass up. So
I do it. I make it. I look at it,
tasted season it tastes good. I run it to the
chef because you can't serve anything unless the chef taste.

(40:55):
He takes a spoon and tasted. He looks at me,
takes the bowl, the whip and everything it, throws it
in the garbage and says, this is fucking shit. And
I just looked at him. Of course, there's no explanation,
like Brian, like today, we have to have a uh
you know, a life coach with your cooks and say, look, Johnny,
I need to help you learn what you did wrong.

(41:15):
I mean back in the day. It's like, okay, So
he didn't explain to me. I went back twelve more yokes.
I looked at it again. Okay, it was too thick. Yes,
seasoning pofra wasn't right. Did I did I curdl the eggs?
I don't think I did. I was very careful when
I made it again. I brought to him in a
hurry and no no eye contact. It's like looking at
a shark. He's gonna bite you, you know, so no,
I kind of looking at your shoes, hands folded. Thank you, chef,

(41:36):
may have another. He tasted, doesn't say a word, but
he served it. That was the qualifier. Baby. So you
didn't say like, hey, good job, Brian, I'm proud to
have you on my team. Is like you didn't get smacked.
You were doing a good job. Man. Alright, So we've
got a water bath. I've got a big pot of
what not in a big pot of waters, a little
bit of two inches of water in a pot, and

(41:57):
you've got a metal mixing bowl. And it's important to
have a bowl. It's like we call a moon bowl.
It should have slope sides. This has kind of a
flat side, So I'm gonna hold the bowl on an
angle like that to get more airic. My favorite for
these emultified sauces is called a saucy a, and it's
defined by its sloping sides. If you're very skilled, as
Eric was, you can put it on direct heat and

(42:18):
pull it off as you need as your eggs cook.
But it's more prudent to use a water bath. My
mom cooked her bernat Is in a double boiler. But
all you really need is the right pan and a
pot of boiling water. Hold the pan in the simmering
water and take advantage of water's gentle heat. You put
some lemon juice in there, little lemon juice, pinch of salt,
and put a splash of water, just like a table spoon. Now,

(42:41):
another thing is to use a piano wire whip. There's
a stiff whip. Prefer piano wires flexible, So it's gonna
be kind of loud. But I'm gonna cook this over
the water brought. Let's get start to thicken. The yolks
will thicken the garrate a little bit. At the same time.

(43:03):
You can do this over an open flame. I mean,
we talked about that for a second. But you know,
Stainles steel bull has hot spots, so you know, I mean,
if you're an expert at it, you can do it,
but really it's safer to do over a water bag.
You don't want to cook the eggs. You are you
want you want to cook him, but you want to
cook him evenly. So if you get a hot spot,
you can get curdly right start. Then you have a

(43:23):
little lumps in it, and then somebody might throw your
bowl and whip in the garbage. Can you see how
it's getting aerated like that? Almost like a zambion, right?
More liquid like twelve yolks to two cups of liquid
is the classics the bagley only in Italy or za

(43:46):
bione sauce French usually used for dessert. Okay, so that's
about the thickness we want. And that's where why would
you describe that almost almost ribbon. It's a ribbon. It's like, yeah,
kind of a thin ribbon. Off the off the ribbon. Okay,
so that's good. We can move this out of the way.
Turn off the flame. Turn off the flame. Now the
butter is added. The crucial part is the first stages.

(44:09):
I want to reiterate what Brian just said. For an
emultified sauce, it's important to add just a little bit
of fat and use that to establish the emotion. When
I'm making a mayonnaise, for instance, I had a single
drop to the yolk, water and lemon, then whisk hard
to make sure the emotion is established. Once that's happened,
you can add the fat or butter in a steady stream,

(44:32):
whisking continuously. So the principle here is like making mayonnaise,
to write, the initial fat added to the yokes is
the beginning of the emotion. So what's happening is that
they're combining, they're hanging onto each other, and it's gonna
get thick. So if you add the liquid butter too fast,
you'll have what's called it'll break it won't buy it. Yeah,

(44:53):
you'll have you know, you'll have a soup there. It's
it's not good. So you start very low, a few
drops to start. I'm gonna git my son Ben, just
hold this bolts or doesn't move around on that. Thanks,
holding on an angle like that, that's too much. I
don't all right, I'm gonna add a little bit of
a very slow stream. I'm agitating it, which Michael, you

(45:19):
know my personality. It's agitating so slowly, slowly, slowly. Once
the emulsion occurs, you can add the fat faster. But
if you if you do it too fast, it will
break for sure. If you're going to use Yeah, I've

(45:41):
never done it, but I'd like anything in the kitchen
as long as it follows the principle, hang on to it.
If it If it follows the principle and taking advantage
of minor technology, there's nothing wrong with it. Now, let's
say this does break, right, and just so you know,
if I've made a few hollandaise in my life that

(46:02):
have broken, there is a way to recouper. You get
another bowl with a few drops of water, and you
whisk the water and slowly add the broken Hollandaise to it.
See this is a three oak match because you made
you doing a twelve oak match. That's why most chefs
look like Popeye. Their forms are like really thick. Oh
my god. Well there they have. I'm sure the big

(46:29):
copper mixing bowls, big balloon withs and you can take
that and air rate that like a mojo. Here, I'm
using basically the spokes of a model T is my
when I'm just kidding, basically had a clarified letter here

(46:51):
because the solids a fonder about that's right. I'm not
going to use the solids because if the sauce is
getting nice and thick right now, and the more you whip,
I mean you see how my elbow is facing out,
I'm using my wrist action. That's a proper technique. Or
if you were larger bowl, if you were doing this
with two people at it, you put your elbow in

(47:14):
and move this to action. So now it's even more
ribon e So this can be like a nap. But
you want to hold on it again, well a little flatter, ye,

(47:39):
I'm getting down of the way. So that's about about
three ounces of verified butter per yoke is the right
ratio and there, let's check the seasonings spoon. Mm hmmm,

(48:00):
he's pepper. It's got enough salt. I think he's good.
You use unsalted butter. I hope right. That's why it's
a little salt because I know I didn't have that
much salt, so making this, you should always use unsalted butter.
I think it's a little more lemon juice. It could use.
You put a little more lember. Definitely is pepper. Oh,
you know it's important to take the lid off the

(48:22):
pepper before you uh good black pepper. Never ever ever
use white pepper. Brian knows I do not like white pepper.
Just the audience knows you would use. Jonathan the producer goes,
it's nice to see you guys disagree. I said we
couldn't last an hour without disagreement. Something okay. Here, I

(48:45):
think there's an example of a very bass mother sauce
and an assauciate department. You conquered the five mother sauces.
You can make five thousand sauces off of those five
bass sauces, Tomato sauce, besh manvolute uh veals, you know,
espaniol and holidays. Those five mother sauces make everything else

(49:08):
to repeat. Those five mother sauces that lead to five
thousand are the demi gloss or sauce Espanol, which is
a veal based stock, the volute chicken or fish stock
thickened with rue, bechamel milk thickened with rue a really
versatile sauce at home tomato sauce, and the hollidaise sauce.

(49:29):
Those are the five mother sauces. Again, what I love
about cooking other than the fact that your entire life
you can learn something. It's understanding the principle and the
fundamental and if you can, you can accomplish this. This
is so so versatile. Now take savory whipped cream, do
whip came to that amount folding in and then you
glaze a piece of broiled fish and gratinate underneath the broiler.

(49:53):
Change your life. Man, A tomato paste and a tearragain,
reduction sauce Sharon great with grilled meat. M baroness Us
perfect with poach fish, Hollandise with eggs. You know the
bacon I make fo Man, You've didn gone to heaven,
forget about beautiful, forget about it. Thank you, chef special

(50:22):
Thanks to chef Brian Poulson for making holidays sauce with me.
He'll be back next week showing me how to cure bacon.
Thanks also to our guests Chef Eric Repair and Kenji
Lopez Alt. Lastly, my new book is out. It's also
called From Scratch, but it's all about cooking and ten
meals that can teach us all we need to know

(50:42):
in the kitchen. We'll have a link to it in
the show notes and on my site Ulman dot com.
From Scratch The podcast is produced by Jonathan Dressler. Our
executive producer is Christopher Hasiotis. Our supervising producer is Gabrielle Collins.
The music is by Ryan Scott off his album A

(51:03):
Freak Grows in Brooklyn. From Scratch is a production of
I Heart Radio. For more podcasts from I heart Radio,
visit the i heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you listen to your favorite shows.
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