Behold Michael Ruhlman’s Crispy Mollet Egg!
Yes, this is the actual photo of Ruhlman’s beautiful “Crispy Morlet Egg With Asparagus” dish, as shared in his terrific cookbook that celebrates anything and everything “EGG!”
My “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge Cracks Up!
For those following, I am cooking 52 different recipes from 52 of my cookbooks in 2022 – one a week – and am sharing the recipe and my attempt to replicate it at home!
Here is the ingredient list from the cookbook – a pretty small list, easily manageable it seems:
As I gathered the ingredients I thought to myself:
“How difficult can this be? It’s just an egg on asparagus!”
Well, wait until you see – because this broke me faster than you can break an egg!
Here’s a step-by-step look as a disaster loomed:
It began simply: boil some heavily salted water and drop the asparagus in to blanch for 4-5 minutes…
I dropped the cooked asparagus in an ice bath for a few minutes, then cut off the tops and wrapped them in a paper towel and plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator…
Easy, right? Let’s get the rest of the easy stuff out of the way:
You take the rest of the asparagus, cut it into inch-long pieces and then blend it all up into a puree, which I did with a hand blender…put that away for now and grab that shallot you have sitting nearby:
Mince two tablespoons of shallot, squeeze half a lemon over it, and set it aside as well…hey, this is going so smoothly!
Oh yeah, remember this is an “EGG” dish…which means the key ingredient awaits…and I have to make a “Mollet Egg” now!
But what is it? Well, here is the official definition:
“Mollet, which means “soft” in French, refers to eggs that are cooked in water in the shells for a longer period of time than soft-cooked eggs, but not as long as hard-cooked eggs — about 6 minutes total. … Then the eggs are shelled, leaving their shape intact.”
OK…and it is now that my “52 in 22” challenge begins to unravel in slow motion…
A “Mollet” Dilemma Unfolds…
Chef Ruhlman gives two options for the Mollet Egg, conceding they are MUCH EASIER TO PEEL in a pressure cooker…so, using 3 eggs to ensure I have an extra, I start that process…but after a few minutes of the machine not doing much, I panic and turn it off – reverting to the classic “boiling an egg in a pot” approach:
Ruhlman’s recipe recommends 4-5 minutes to achieve the right “mollet” texture, but I already let them sit in the pressure cooker for two minutes…did anything begin to happen?
Storm clouds are forming…
You see, even though I knew I was going to make this dish – these are my ONLY eggs in the house! So, I cannot afford to over cook them!
I let them boil and then I put hem in an ice bath after 4 minutes.
When they are cool, I start to shell them – and that’s when it ALL FELL APART:
Ruhlman clearly states in his recipe that it’s a laborious process to shell a Mollet egg, but I had NO IDEA:
You see, after 15 minutes pulling the shell off one egg – one microscopic piece at a time, because it just won’t come off and the egg white dislike jello inside – I try to pull a larger piece of shell off and a chuck of the egg white came off completely, revealing a huge crack in the interior of the egg!
Goodbye Mollet Egg #1!
The reason the Mollet egg is so delicious is that it’s very soft inside – which also means that the egg white is so soft that it begins to separate as I peel – and as the crack grew larger, the whole egg literally came apart in my hand!
Goodbye to egg #1 – 2 more available!
Goodbye Mollet Egg #2!
I didn’t even get this one started!
I cracked the shell very carefully then very carefully put my finger nail in the crack to gently pull off a piece of shell – and my finger went straight into the center of the egg!
At that point there was no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again – the entire egg went into the garbage!
The Last Mollet Egg!
This all played out in the space of a half hour: I went from NOT pressure cooking my Mollet eggs to boiling them, and then losing the first two by peeling them so poorly they literally fell apart in my hand!
My wife Alex came in to capture some of the debacle, as I SLOWLY SLOWLY SLOWLY began to pick off the shell of the last egg:
Almost a half hour later, and using everything I learned with the first two egg mistakes, I held a completely shelled Mollet Egg in my hand – sort of:
You see, it’s literally like holding jello!
I couldn’t set the egg down, because it was only holding its “egg shape” because I was cupping it in my hand!
The next step called for rolling it in flour, then in egg, then in Panko bread crumbs….but if I set it down it wouldn’t stay together!
What to do?
Breading An Egg By Hand – Literally!
Yes, I couldn’t figure out what to do – this was my last Mollet Egg – so I cupped it in one hand while pouring flour over it with my other!
Next I literally poured a beaten, raw egg over my hand, trying to capture enough of it to coat the egg, then I poured Panko crumbs over it and tried to “roll” it a bit to get underneath!
This was NOT HONORABLE.
But would it work? I dropped it in some boiling vegetable oil and here is what happened:
While it lost a bit of shape, it held together – I didn’t touch it at all for about two minutes, then I gently flipped it over for about 3 more minutes:
When it had the right color, I took it out and let is rest on a paper towel.
Next, I grabbed the asparagus puree, which I warmed up on the stove while whisking in two tablespoons of butter:
The finished sauce goes in a large shallow dish, and you sprinkle the marinated shallots over the top…finally, take your asparagus tips and arrange them so there is a space in the middle – plop the egg down and here’s the dish:
Michael Ruhlman’s Mollet Egg With Asparagus Dish!
Well, here’s how my finished product looks plated and ready to eat!
Remember what his looked like in the book:
It’s clear that I should have ground my Panko crumbs much smoother than what was in the box.
While his egg has a much smoother exterior, I’m happy that I could replicate the plating pretty well – oh, and as for the “mollet” part of the egg, time to cut it open and see:
My “Mollet Egg” Seemed “Mollet” Enough!
Well, it seems like I got the “runniness” of the dish right!
The egg yolk was beautifully soft and runny, and the creaminess of the asparagus sauce was the perfect counter to the crispy exterior of the egg – a truly delicious dish!
I plan to try and make mollet eggs again, this time using the pressure cooker as Ruhlman recommended to see if they are any easier to peel…thanks Michael for the great recipe!
Some of you may know that I made a TV cooking competition show for PBS with Ruhlman:
This was BEFORE “Top Chef” – you can see more about the show and a lot more of Michael’s cookbooks by clicking on my story here:
This is the 3rd of my “52 In 22” recipe challenge…for week one, I tackled a legendary Norwegian Sole dish thanks to Vincent Price:
You can see it here:
Week two took me to Italy with help from The Sopranos and Stanley Tucci as well:
You can see how the iconic Actor gave the Mob as assist with my dish by clicking on my story here: