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Earlier this year as I was flipping through my favorite national food titles, it became clear that a handful of trends were repeating themselves more frequently than usual. Yes, seemingly every magazine included a feature on artisanal whole grains. But there was also a more microscopic topic that kept showing up: sieved egg yolks. This year’s Saveur 100 included the technique of aging egg yolks in salt before shaving them onto pasta or vegetables, “a genius stand-in for bottarga.” The March issue of Bon Appétit included a recipe for rigatoni with grated egg yolk on top, akin to finishing a pasta dish with Parmesan cheese. I realized in reading these national pages that sieved egg yolk is something we’ve seen in Denver for some time.
Back in late 2012, Nelson Perkins and his team at Colt & Gray cured egg yolks in a simple salt and sugar mixture and used them to accompany beef heart tartare. Last year I had a dish at Lower48 Kitchen that included the salty protein garnish. Alex Figura shaved house-cured yolks over a plate of spelt tagliatelle, garlic scapes, and asparagus colatura. That egg played a starring role in what was one of the most memorable dishes of my tenure as a restaurant critic. More recently, I had sieved yolk atop a starter of smoked, rye-cured Scottish salmon at Argyll Whisky Beer, which I just reviewed. The technique seasons a dish while lending added texture. I loved the idea so much that I asked outgoing culinary conductor John Broening (his last day is Sunday), who also uses shaved yolk over asparagus and salad Nicoise, if he would be willing to share his recipe.
He was. Now, the next time I’m making meringue, a fleet of classic fizz cocktails, or something else that calls only for egg whites, there is no doubt how I will preserve the yolks.
John Broening’s Modern Sieved Egg (Makes 12 firm yolks)
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
12 large egg yolks
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, and black pepper. Spread two thirds of the salt mixture onto a baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, make 12 indentations in the salt mixture, each one about the size of an egg yolk. Working over a bowl, crack an egg into the palm of your hand. Let the whites run between your fingers into the bowl, carefully cradling the yolk as you work. When the yolk has released all of the white, slip it into one of the indentations in the salt mixture. Repeat with all eggs, reserving the bowl of whites for another use. Cover each yolk with some of the remaining salt mixture. Wrap the baking sheet in plastic and refrigerate for 5 days.
After 5 days, remove the firm yolks from the salt mixture. Rinse each yolk thoroughly by placing it in a bowl filled with ice water. Lay them on a sheet pan lined with paper towels to dry. Cover the pan and store the yolks in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, grating them with a microplane zester as needed.