Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poterous: A New Hope

So, a new try on Poterous.

This time I used finer and hotter salt. My mistake was to re-use some salt from the last time. It turned brown in the oven, but it made it look more period, so no problem. The result was not as pretty as last time.

Here is the salt ready to be put in the oven to heat it up. Still white...

And here is what will be put inside it. Just plain eggs, no spices.

And out of the oven! It made some bubbles, so the result is not as pretty as it could be. The salt turned brown and there is not those big and pretty chrystals as before. I wonder if I should add some more coarse salt on the rim, just to decorate.

On the serving plate. I made it with only three eggs in order to save our tasters (me and hubby) from too much food.

The results. The finer (and hotter, mind you) salt did not make the crust thinner, quite the opposite! But it made it hard and dry, so it was easy to eat only the eggs and leave the salt crust on the plate. You can see the crust in the middle of the picture, with the already "loosened" eggs on top of it. Too bad that the recipe doesn't tell us anything about how the dish should be eaten, but I would bet they left the crust un-eaten.

I am now sertain, that the original recipe mentions "the coffin" only because of "the pie crust" formed by the salt. There is no dough involved!

This dish could be used as a part of a feast, but you would have to mention to the guests that they are not supposed to eat all that salt!

Oh, and during the cooking my hubby complained about the slight smell of hydrochloric acid in the air. He said it is propably caused by salt and acids from the eggs being heated together. I hope there was not too much of it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So I tried this recipe from Harleian - Poterous. It is basically eggs that are broken onto a VERY hot salt bed to cook.

Original recipe in clear English: Take a shovel of iron & heat it burning hot; & then take it out of the fire, & fill it full of salt; then make a pit in the salt all hollow, the shape of a wooden dish; & set the pan & the salt over the fire again, till the salt is burning hot; & then cast thine white & the yolks of eggs into the hole of the salt, & let seethe over the fire till it is half hard; & then put a dish half full of salt; & then take a dresser knife, & put underneath the salt in the pan, & heave it up so fair, that the coffin with the eggs break not; then set it on the dish with the salt, & then serve it forth.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, since I was so eager to taste it. But believe me, the dish is very pretty. I'll post a picture when I try it again in a couple of days. (Running out of salt...)

So. I put a lot of coarse sea salt in a pot with another pot on top to make a round hole in the salt. Heated it in the oven to 250°C. Broke some eggs in a bowl without braking the yolks. Removed the mould pot from the salt. Poured the eggs in the hole. (Makes a nise hissing sound. ;) ) Cooked the whole thing in the oven untill the eggs were half hard. And finally lifted the "egg pie" from the pot to a serving plate with the thin salt crust it had created.

The result is a pretty "pie" with yellow yolks showing through the solid whites. And the most beautiful thing is the diamond-like chrystals of salt on the rim. The taste was that of normal eggs, but VERY salty.

I'll try it next with finer salt, so that the salt crust should be thinner. Or one could try to scrape of the eccess salt before serving. The modern adaptation of the recipe by Cindy Renfrow in her book "Take a thousand eggs or more" used a pie crust to cook the eggs in and had salt only on the rim for decoration, but that is not according to the original recipe.

Okay, the original mentions once "a coffin", which usually means a pie crust, but it can also mean the hole in the salt, indeed shaped like "a coffin", or the salt crust that forms around the eggs. And the original clearly states to cast the eggs "into the hole of salt". I really don't think they use any pie crusts in this! And since the result is very pretty, the taste is a secondary issue. ;)