The crispy egg on Ryan Brazeal’s menu at Novel might stand as a kind of signature appetizer — well that and the fluke crudo — for its assemblage of ingredients and the time and technique that go into it.
The centerpiece cornmeal-crusted egg, served atop feathery frisee, pieces of tripe, chipotle pepper and bacon hushpuppies, is cooked three times.
How do they do that?
In the course of preparing my review of the new West Side restaurant (find the review atkansascity.com
or in Thursday’s Preview section), I asked Brazeal to explain.
The discovery in recent years that egg yolks and whites reach perfection at different temperatures has top chefs experimenting like so many lab-coated culinary scientists. Brazeal said he drew from an amalgam of experiences in his 10 years working and dining in New York restaurants, and he was especially inspired by a poached and fried egg that famed chef Tom Valenti made at Ouest.
For his version, Brazeal first places eggs in a water-bath circulator set at precisely 61.4 degrees. Forty-five minutes later, the yolk has reached its desired ooziness, and the eggs are set aside to cool. Later, the eggs return to the circulator for a much briefer stint at a higher temperature just long enough to set the whites without changing the consistency of the thickly running yolks. After they’re peeled and breaded, the eggs get a quick deep-fry treatment. When the dish reaches the table and you slice through the crust, a golden lava flow begins.
In his soft-spoken, self-deprecating way, Brazeal acknowledges the tedium of the process. But he also knows what my friends and I discovered at his table — his dish with the triple-cooked egg is sheer delight.