Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kitchen Klutz: Meet 'The Iron Klutz'

Photos by Ted Levin

By Michèle De Meglio

Where’s the last place you’d expect to find the Kitchen Klutz? Manning the stove in a Michelin-starred restaurant’s kitchen, you say? Well, guess what? That’s where I am!

Chef Brad Farmerie, star of the Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef,” welcomed me to PUBLIC restaurant in Manhattan for a one-on-one cooking lesson. Do you see a train wreck coming?

Farmerie’s place was the first stop on my multipart “The Iron Klutz” tour. Yes folks, I’ll be training with “The Next Iron Chef” team for the next few weeks.

Over at PUBLIC, a smiling Farmerie donned a crisp chef’s jacket and grass green clogs and prepared to teach me how to make Turkish Eggs. The poached eggs dish is a favorite on PUBLIC’s brunch menu, which Timeout New York labeled the “best brunch in New York City.”

Oh boy. I’m supposed to cook an award-winning dish? I don’t even know what a poached egg looks like!

Although I was completely out of my element (but seriously, what cooking element do I have?), I put on a brave face, ignored the butterflies in my tummy and did what I was told.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do it right.

In an amazing display of culinary prowess, Farmerie needed just one hit to crack an egg on the side of a large pot filled with boiling water. Even more amazingly, his hands nearly touched the hot-hot-hot water as he dropped the egg in. Am I supposed to do that?! Uh, apparently yes.

I cracked an egg on the side of the pot just like Farmerie did (add about five extra cracks), then held it several inches from the boiling water.

“Lower, lower, lower,” Farmerie advised.

“But it’s hot,” I protested.

Mr. Master Chef didn’t give up. “Low. Low,” he ordered.

I whined silently while inching the egg closer to the pot. It fell in and water shot out and scalded my hand. “Ow, it splashed me!” I squealed.

After a couple of minutes swirling in the pot, Farmerie’s excellent eggs floated to the top like a couple of proverbial fluffy white clouds. But my bad boys (and I do mean bad) were hard yellow yolks that settled like rocks at the bottom of the pot. They looked like eyeballs. Really ugly eyeballs.

It seems the fate of my eggs was predestined. Before we got started, Farmerie explained that if the egg is not dropped in the pot just right, “you get something that looks like a flat fried egg.”

“It’s lame, it’s lame,” he said. “You don’t want to be lame in your brunch preparation. You want to be kind of cool.”

And there you have it. I am lame.

Verdict: My eyeball eggs would be great for Halloween but Farmerie’s perfectly poached eggs are a hit at any Sunday brunch.

Placed in a bed of Greek yogurt and topped with a buttery sauce (he made it, not me) and sun-dried chili flakes from Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue, the eggs are egg-a-riffic! Here’s how Farmerie said to eat ‘em — use a spoon to break the eggs open, then scoop up the gooey insides with a thick slice of grilled sourdough bread and enjoy this savory sensation.

I followed these instructions perfectly! After dribbling a bit of egg on my jeans that is. But that’s why they made Shout!

Check back next week to see if I falter or flourish under the tutelage of Chef Amanda Freitag of The Harrison in the second installment of “The Iron Klutz!”

“The Next Iron Chef” airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.

Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.

(Left: Farmerie's eggs. Right: Klutz's eggs)

Turkish Eggs

(Courtesy Brad Farmerie)


1 cup full fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 organic eggs

2 ounces butter (1/2 a stick)

1 tablespoon chili flakes


Place the yogurt, olive oil and chives in a mixing bowl and stir together. Put an equal amount of yogurt in the bottom of four bowls, making a slight indention in the middle for the eggs to sit. Leave at room temperature until needed.

Place the butter in a small pot and melt over medium heat. Stir the butter constantly and when the butter turns a light golden brown color add the chili flakes. Set the pot aside.

Place a pot of water on high heat to poach the eggs (the deeper the pot the better the shape on the eggs). Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar for every ½ gallon of water in the pot (this will help to cook the eggs and give them a better shape).

When the water is up to a boil, stir a slotted spoon around the edge of the pot to create a small whirlpool. Quickly crack the eggs one by one and dump the egg into the middle of the pot.

Reduce the pot to a simmer (with bubbles still coming up in the water) and cook the eggs for about 3 minutes until they are firm but give a bit (this will give a runny yolk).

With a slotted spoon, remove the eggs, allowing the excess water to drain from each egg. Put two poached eggs on top of the yogurt in each bowl.

Pour chili butter over the eggs and serve with plenty of toast to sop up the delicious goodness. Serves 4.


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