Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, Pain Perdu, Tea Jelly
Specialty Equipment: electric slicer, syringe, vacuum machine, fine digital scale
Specialty Ingredients: skimmed milk powder, malic acid, gelatin 170 Bloom, liquid nitrogen
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Liquid nitrogen part 2. Egg and bacon ice cream. Possibly the most famous dish of the Fat Duck. Known around the world. I can understand why. Here’s an at home version.
Two things had to be made 24 hours in advance of eating the dish: (part of) the custard base for the ice cream and the candied bacon. The latter needed to be very thin slices, made by cutting a frozen block of bacon on an electric slicer. I’m sort of done with stepping into a shop, making a ‘strange’ request and have eyes stare back at me in amazement. Luckily my friend, the guy cooking the liquid nitrogen recipes with me, owner of three burger joints in Amsterdam, could slice bacon for me. It was not frozen prior to cutting, but still very thin.
With bacon slices at hand you have to vacuum pack them for a few hours with either a sugar syrup or maple syrup (see the rest of the paragraph), unpack them, brush them with maple syrup and dry them for 24 hours. I put it in the (possible) discrepancies post, because reading the recipe, it is unclear if you have to vacuum pack the bacon with sugar syrup or maple syrup. Prior to the vacuum pack instruction the recipe asks to make a sugar syrup, but later on there is no mentioning what to do with it. I read the first maple syrup as sugar syrup, hoping they made a typo.
Left, slices under vacuum, on the right, not.
You have to dry the slices at 60˚C for 24 hours. Mine curled up a bit at the edges, but I’m not sure for what reason. Maybe you should be extremely careful in laying the slices on the rack to make sure there are no small overlaps (which happened when I straightened out the slices, no pun intended).
To the crazy bit, the ice cream (actually, an ice cream made from tinned sardines may be even more crazy). It is made by roasting sweet-cured back bacon and smoked belly bacon, soaking the bacon in milk for 12 hours, adding skimmed milk powder, egg yolks and sugar to the milk, heating it to 84˚C, sieving it and blending it for 5 minutes. In short so to speak. We used good quality bacon and stayed away from supermarket pork.
A not so nasty snack of bacon scrambled eggs on brioche.
The tea jelly is made similarly to the hot and iced tea, minus the gellan preparations. We substituted Darjeeling tea, one of three teas used, with a tea at hand.
Another unusual component to an already unusual dish is the tomato jam. It is made by cooking dices of peeled tomato, dices of peeled piquillo peppers, powdered sugar, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and coffee beans to a jam consistency. To give it some starting fluid you have to macerate the piths from the tomatoes with sugar, a bit like extracting fluid from strawberries with sugar. The amount of peppers needed is so small, we used tinned, roasted piquillo peppers (which had a good flavor), instead of pulling an ‘in search of’ for fresh ones.
The base for the ice cream is a pain perdu, a caramelized piece of eggy bread or French toast. By the way, all these names are nothing compared to the Dutch one: ‘wentelteefje’. I’ll let you look up the literal translation yourself.
After putting slices of brioche in the fridge for a couple of hours, we vacuum packed them in a mix of milk, eggs, vanilla and liquor (we used cinnamon, because I didn’t have walnut) and let them drain. It’s a funny sight putting the brioche through the vacuum machine, seeing the bread soaking up the milk when the vacuum is released.
Ok, so everything was ready. It’s not a really complicated dish, the recipes and equipment can just be difficult to acquire. The first step to plating was the frying of the brioche in clarified butter. When it has a nice brown exterior you have to swipe the pan clean, put sugar in it, let it caramelise, add the brioche to the pan for the second time, and let it take up all the caramel.
I’m not really sure if the bread is supposed to be warm when you serve it, but we went straight to the tableside preparation, so the bread was still slightly warm when served. To make the ice cream we put it in a nice copper pan, and started adding liquid nitrogen with a ladle. What happens next was really amazing, especially when you do it at home. Ice cream in a mere 20 seconds! Not the granular stuff that usually comes out of my ice cream machine, but smooth ass ice cream.
So, first of, the candied bacon was not fully dried, it could use a few more hours in the dehydrator. Or soaking it in a sugar syrup was not the way to go and putting it longer in the dehydrator would not have made a difference. Besides that, the dessert came out great.
The pain perdu is absolutely amazing. Very, very tasty. I’m gonna make it all the time. Working your way up you come to the jam and the ice cream. The jam is odd at first, but delicious after the first bite. As for the ice cream, opinions varied. Some liked it, others not that much and I was kind of in the middle. I mentioned it before and this recipe really stands out, you can’t deduct a dish from a recipe. Every piece of bacon, and egg for that matter, differ, so you really have to know what you’re aiming for to replicate this Fat Duck dish. I thought the bacon flavor was a bit too pronounced, but I have no idea how the ice cream in Bray compares. We should really finalize the plans to go eat the real deal.
So, a successful recipe, but not a mind-blowing experience. Though I should mention the liquid nitrogen preparation at the table is cool stuff, especially with unsuspecting eaters. If you ever get a chance to pick some up I would definitely do it.
A small note. In all the chaos in the kitchen we forgot to add the tomato jam to the plate we photographed, but didn’t when making it for everyone. What we did forget was the tea jelly. Such a shame, because it is an incredible rich dish and a citric tea would really balance it all. Here’s a picture of the final dish with the jellied tea, but in the end I didn’t like the photo. It isn’t really clear in the photo, but the jelly was just set and looked just like egg white, another smart play on the egg theme.