The same cold that inspired The Great Pudding Experiment and kept my youngest home from school last week saw fit to share its wealth of fever and snot with the rest of the family over the weekend. One thing you have to give the common cold, it’s egalitarian in its distribution, a regular Communist Manifesto for low grade viruses.
My eldest daughter – along with me, this week’s guest of honor in the Kerson family Petri dish – smooths out life’s rougher edges with an aplomb far beyond her 10 tender years. Really, I often wish that I could roll with the punches as neatly as she does, and the example she sets makes me tremendously proud. A case in point, there she is over at the right, home sick with a nasty cold and a nearly-broken wrist, and she’s whisking eggs for the subject of this post, a recipe largely of her construction: a simplified version of Joel Robuchon’s epic pommes purees, with very gently scrambled eggs – almost a custard, the way I like to cook them – and big slug of truffle-y love.
To give credit where it’s due, I cook scrambled eggs and I cook mashed potatoes all the time, but generally not together. So, while both eggs and potatoes make quintessentially classic mates for truffles, it took my 5th grader to point out the you might want to put the one on top of the other; generally, I prefer to build dishes with more varied textures, but sometimes I can’t pile enough smooth, silky luxuriance onto one plate, and that’s the nut of my little Miss M’s idea. She also insisted that I take the blame for the truffles; her version depends instead on thick slab bacon for ballast, preferably from one of our fine local pig butchers such as Black Pig or Willowside, and who doesn’t like a little smoky, salty, pig fat with their fancy eggs and taters?
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this dish of fingerling potato mousse with egg yolk and truffle, which I was lucky enough to eat on my birthday more than 10 years ago and which I remember to this day, has been on the menu forever at the legendary Taillevent in Paris, so the kid must be on to something. Granted, my daughter’s version turned out to be less clever-looking, but it’s cheaper by an order of magnitude, reproducible by mere mortals, and delicious all the same, and I can’t wait to try it again with fresh truffles and their jus instead of the jarred “cream” we brought home from Big John’s.
Gently Scrambled Eggs with Pommes Puree and Truffles (4 servings)
Ingredients: 2lb waxy potatoes (I love Yukon Golds, and they’re easy to find, but I’ve seen similar recipes call for all sorts; the main thing is that they be freshly dug, if at all possible); 1C of milk or cream, heated; as much cold butter as you can use with a clear conscious, cut into small cubes (seriously – you’d be shocked to read how much butter a classic Pommes Puree uses; but at least a stick, and you could double that if you were so inclined); 1 dozen very fresh eggs; (preferably from one of our many local chicken farmers; I prefer not to use Arucaunas, however, because the yolks tend not to be as golden) ; fresh or jarred truffles (whole, or in pieces, or in a “cream”, as mine were – at $14 for a little 1oz jar, they seem expensive, but the all-in, per-plate ends up at what you’d pay for a burrito).
- Scrub and boil the potatoes in their skins, until fork-tender to the core (this will take maybe 30 minutes; I’ve been known to cheat by peeling and cutting into pieces first to save time, but the product suffers).
- Whisk the eggs with a little salt and white pepper and a splash of water, milk or cream, and cook in a buttered, non-stick pan over very low heat, stirring to achieve a uniform consistency. The key to the eggs is to keep them moving and cook them very slowly (maybe 30 minutes for a dozen in a large pan).
- Drain and peel the cooked potatoes and – working quickly, it is vital that they remain hot – and pass through a ricer or a sieve. Mash in the cold butter in batches, add the hot milk or cream to achieve the desired consistency, and adjust the seasoning (they’ll take quite a bit of salt).
- Make a mound of potatoes in the bottom of a pasta bowl, press a well into the middle, fill with the scrambled eggs, and top with a quenelle of the truffle cream (or a pile of shavings, if fresh). Garnish with fleur de sel, and maybe some chives. (I’m actually not too keen on the presentation we came up with; if you come up with a prettier version, please send in the pic so I can post it and copy you!)