Like restaurant and chef-driven food trends, home cooking sees certain ingredients and techniques rise and fall out of fashion. Pickles stormed the scene in 2015, while 2016 was all about fermentation. Our prediction is that 2017 is going to be the year of dry curing. This is simply the process of letting raw food hang out under a mountain of seasoned salt, slowly leeching moisture and transforming in both texture and flavor.
There are varying levels of curing projects, and though all are based on this relatively easy process, some are more complex than others. So, if you want to experiment with dry curing, you don’t need
to start with a multi-step (and somewhat expensive) project like duck prosciutto or DIY bacon. As with all new adventures in the kitchen, it’s best to work up to the tougher stuff over time, building confidence with smaller successes along the way.
This egg yolk recipe is the perfect place to embark into the salty world of dry curing. The ingredients are minimal (save the leftover egg whites for a light-as-air pavlova), and the outcome is divine. In just a few days, the once gelatinous egg yolks are firm and translucent, all of their lovely flavors condensed into a little golden sphere. Grated against a microplane, the cured egg yolk shavings make an unexpected and impressive topping for pasta, pizza, and veggies. Much like parmesan and other hard aged cheeses, there’s almost nothing cured egg yolk doesn’t enhance.
Cured Egg Yolk
Serves 2 to 4
Recipe from Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water: Pasta
Total Cooking Time: 3 days
Active Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 3 cups kosher salt (340 g)
- ⅛ cup finely ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 5 large egg yolks
In a mixing bowl, combine the salt and black pepper.
Lay the sprigs of thyme of the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan or another small container with a flat bottom and spread three-fourths of the salt mixture evenly on top of the thyme. Reserve the remainder.
Make individual beds for the egg yolks on the salt by using a whole, uncracked egg to form a well in the salt, pushing down gently with the eggs rounded bottom to create a well the size of an egg yolk. Carefully slip the yolk into the salt well without breaking it. Repeat the process with the rest of your yolks. Cover the yolks with the remaining salt. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 2 days.
After 2 days, the yolks should be dry and firm to the touch. At this point, remove them from the salt, flip them upside down, and lay them out on a tray at room temperature. Let them dry for another day. Store in an airtight container. The cured yolk will keep for up to 2 months at room temperature.
Photos by Megan Lee Voigt