Thursday, February 11, 2010

oh ee oh ee oh

The other thing you can do with transglutaminase is make meat-based ravioli.  You heard me.

I took two paper-thin slices of bresaola (Italian air-cured beef) and bonded them together around an egg yolk, before simmering it just long enough to slightly cook it.

Bresaola raviolo

Bresaola raviolo

Because the bresaola isn't cured with nitrates, it doesn't stay red after cooking -- so the presentation isn't as nice as I expected.  The pasta is dressed lightly with a couple drops of olive oil and Gegenbauer red pepper vinegar, but we'll talk about the vinegar in the vinegar post later.

Functionally, this worked very well.  It's fussy: this "glue" is a powder, after all, not Elmer's glue, so getting two thin sheets of cured meat to bond together at the edges enough to be reasonably water-tight took some careful doing.  Initially there's nothing to make them stick.  You just have to be careful.

Taste-wise, the pasta itself is just great.  Italian cuisine uses egg yolks to dress things fairly often, whether it's a poached egg broken open on vegetables, egg yolk ravioli like this, or an egg baked on top of a pizza.  

But the bresaola wasn't the ideal choice here.  It happened to be the one meat I had in the house that would make this dish possible, but it's not suited to simmering -- it loses its delicate flavor and texture, and there's nothing especially interesting about Very Thin Beef, which is what you end up with.  This would be better made with a different meat -- salami? ham? duck? -- or a different cooking method.  Frying the raviolo seems risky because of the agitation, and I've never fried bresaola so I don't know what that would do to the texture -- but it seems worth trying.  If not, maybe you could do "bacon and eggs" ravioli, encasing an egg yolk in bacon and then frying it -- I just think it would be tricky to fry the bacon to the point of crispiness without hard-cooking the egg.

Of course, there is another way to go with this "egg inside meat" idea, too: if you freeze whole, uncooked egg yolks, they will gradually change in texture, and remain thickened and gelatinous instead of runny once they've thawed.  You could freeze-treat small egg yolks to bring them to that point, and then wrap bresaola or another thin cured meat around each yolk (perhaps with a thin schmear of soft cheese, or some puree of spicy pepper, or a piece of pickled onion), and bond it overnight.  Bring them to room temperature and serve -- no cooking, though I suppose if you didn't want to serve them as finger food, you could sauce them with a warm sauce just before service.

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