Natural servingware

I’ve long been a fan of the idea of using eggshells as serving pieces, especially since I saw Michael Laiskonis’ recipe for The Egg at Le Bernardin. The challenge, of course, is to remove the top of the shell cleanly. Apparently, it can be done simply with a serrated knife and a lot of practice, but I don’t have the benefit of a restaurant’s turnover to get that kind of practice. Then there are specialty tools available, but realistically, am I going to use these often enough to justify the expense?

The solution came, as it so often does these days, from Modernist Cuisine. They recommend using a rotary tool on the shell, then a sharp blade to cut through the membrane. A friend already had the tool, so I just borrowed it. I cut a circle out of a piece of cardboard as a template, drawing it on the egg in pencil. I quickly learned why you don’t just use it to cut through the membrane: when you do, it has a tendency to splatter. All it took was a little practice to get results that were good enough to serve to friends. After topping them (and using the egg yolks to make ice cream), I rinsed the shells and cooked them in boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilize.

Now I just have to decide what to fill them with. Custard seems like an obvious place to start!

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5 Responses to “Natural servingware”

  1. I remember having this exact same experience last year trying to figure out how to take the top of an egg without spending $50+ bucks. we got out the usual serrated knife, dremel, even a scalpel (which actually wasn’t too bad). The last time I tried this I bought one of those $3 egg cutters that look like that tool used to slice the end off of cigars. It actually worked quite well.

    Mint creme brulee was what we cooked that day. Now keeping it upright in the waterbath was a whole other challenge…

  2. Matthew Kayahara June 9, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Did you find the Dremel didn’t work for you? Where did you buy the cigar cutter-style tool? Sounds like it might be a lot faster.

    As for keeping it upright in the water bath, I fully intend to use an empty paper egg carton. I’m hoping it doesn’t dissolve before the custard cooks!

  3. Oh the dremel definitely worked I’m just not sure I had the steadiest of hands that day! The dremel did work wonders cutting out holes into plastic bins to recess syringes into for making caviar en masse.

    And I picked an egg cutter from Glebe Emporium in Ottawa but I’ve seen them in a few well-/over- stocked kictchen shops all over.

    The dissolving egg carton was my apprehension exactly although I’m sure it would work just fine. We made ring moulds out of aluminum foil, which were horrible unstable.

  4. Matthew Kayahara June 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for that, Raza: I’ll have to check the Glebe Emporium and see if they still carry them! I found the Dremel a bit shaky, too; tracing a circle on the egg beforehand seemed to help. I’ll keep you posted on how I end up keeping the eggshells upright!

  5. Ooh… so fascinating! Too bad that an everyday kitchen tool cannot be used for this. I wonder if the “thinner” shells (chickens are not fed calcium supplements to make their eggs travel long distances) from eggs I get at the veggie store would be better or worse to cut.

    Raza, keep eggs upright in a water bath by using an empty (take out the plastic thingy-ma-jig) olive oil cap. It is heat proof and the perfect size.

    You’ll have to save quite a bit of caps to get enough for a dozen.. I use this method for soft-boiling eggs in the pressure cooker and keep them from rolling around in the steamer basket!

    Ciao,

    L