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.
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How do they do that?
In the course of preparing my review of the new West Side restaurant (find the review at
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.