The Perfect Fried Egg

Fernand-Point1

Chef Fernand Point, long considered the father of nouvelle cuisine, was a great chef and an undisputed genius of technique. He revolutionized some aspects of French gastronomy in building on traditions handed down and in creating his own versions of classic dishes. He opened a legendary restaurant (La Pyramide) halfway between Paris and the Riviera that was a Mecca for celebrities, serious gourmets, and chefs from around the globe. Those influenced by his techniques include Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel, Hubert Keller, and the Troisgros brothers.

Chef Point has some amazing recipes. One that I have been unable (*or unwilling) to try and replicate is so wonderfully complex.  You soft-boil and egg (so the white is firm, and the yolk is still runny) and carefully make a hole in the bottom of the egg and shell.  Drain out the runny egg yolk, and then, carefully, stuff in the same volume (as the egg yolk) of foie gras (softened, with some spices, and a bit of cream added) into the egg.  (Other choices would be a meat mince, or other stuffing.)  Heat and serve.    Now, I’m sure steps were left out, and someday I’ll attempt this — but questions remain.  How to seal it back up, wouldn’t a soft-boiled egg white be too fragile to peel the shell off?   How to re-heat?    I’m sure it’s amazing to bite into a “hard-boiled egg” to discover a different interior than egg yolk. It fascinates me. However, it’s for some dreary rainy day when inspiration hits.

Most of Chef Point’s recipes are simple, but elements are  labor intensive and fantastic sounding.  It’s all probably over my cooking ability.  I love to read his recipes and his view of life itself. I can get behind the idea of opening a big bottle of champagne, and swigging it all day.

While most of his recipes are “huh” “wow” “mmmm”  the one thing, I have mastered is the fried egg a la Master Point, the King.   Delicious.

To quote Thomas Keller[1], “I believe Fernand Point is one of the last true gourmands of the 20th century. His ruminations are extraordinary and thought-provoking—he has been an inspiration for legions of chefs.”

Chef Point, known to his peers as le roi (the king), believed in using the best ingredients possible: regional ingredients, in season, quality-grown. His culinary philosophy was simple: The easiest dishes are often the most difficult. An often-told story is how he would always invite visiting chefs to show off their skill by cooking a simple fried egg. They would, inevitably, fry the egg too fast, in too hot a pan, and he would insult them and show them his way. His way was slow, careful cooking with plenty of butter.

In fact, his favorite saying was “Du beurre! Donnez-moi du beurre! Toujours du beurre!” (Translated: “Butter! Give me butter! Always butter!)

Chef Point’s Fried Egg Recipe

Place a lump of fresh butter in a pan, and let it melt just enough for it to spread and never until it is browned. Open a very fresh egg onto a small plate or saucer, and slide it carefully into the pan. Cook on heat so low that the white barely turns creamy and the yolk becomes hot but remains liquid. In a separate saucepan, melt another lump of fresh butter, remove the egg onto a lightly heated serving plate; salt and pepper it; and then very gently pour the fresh, warm butter over it.

 

[1] Chef of The French Laundry, Napa, California

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