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Oeuf À La Coque – Soft-Boiled Eggs with Soldiers

Francis Mallmann

Lesson time 10 min

From Patagonia to Paris, Francis will transport you to Café de Flore, a famous café where the great intellectuals would gather and one of his favorite places in France. There, they serve glorious oeufs à la coque, soft-boiled eggs, a sophisticated yet simple breakfast that Mallmann regularly makes at home for his children. Not only does Francis teach the basics of boiling eggs, he also speaks about important life lessons like personal reinvention and how it’s never too late to start again.

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– [Francis Mallmann] Close your eyes. We’re in Cafe de Flore in Paris in the Boulevard Saint Germain, one of the places I really like to visit when I’m in Paris. It has angels and demons. It’s intellectual in one way. Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, many of the writers used to go there to write and talk and discuss. And there, they make these glorious oeufs a la coque, soft-boiled eggs, that I’m gonna try to replicate today. I do them very often. I’m gonna cut the very best part of the bread, the center. I’m gonna keep this for breakfast tomorrow. And I’m gonna make these soldiers, which are very thin, tiny toasts. Okay, I think that’s enough. With these bits, I’m gonna do bread crumbs for my soup tonight, but these are the true things I want. They will get toasted. They will be crispy, soft. So they will have all the qualities of passion, of desire, of lust, as we eat these eggs. I’m going to go to the grill very carefully so they don’t break. And here we go. I’m gonna grill them. So this is a butter bread, sort of done with milk with a little bit of butter. You could do it as well with a brioche. I like them to be long. So if you look, this is my hand. I’m a big man, so this is a big hand. So it’s about, I would say, 23, 25 centimeters long and one centimeter width all around. I have the boiling water to cook my eggs. You must know that if you’re at sea level, you cook a soft-boiled egg for three and a half minutes. As you go higher into the mountains, it takes longer to cook. So I’ll probably cook it today for five and a half minutes because we are at 1000 meters altitude in the Andes. So I do it for my children, for all my children. When they’re home, when they wake up, I have everything ready. I wait till the last moment to make the toast so they’re hot, the egg. And I serve them these oeufs a la coque like in Paris. And the second day I do them again. And the third day they say, “Dad, I don’t think we can have the eggs again. They’re quite heavy with the butter,” because you’ll see what I do. I make them really, really naughty. On the third day, they start with their vegan stuff, the celery juice in the morning, and they want me to drink it, and I try to drink it, but I don’t like it. I like my eggs. Ah, what a beauty! I’m in love. Look at them. So delicious. Okay, we’re ready to go. So I’m gonna put the eggs… I have my stopwatch ready here so I’m precise with the timing. And that’s cooking. Cooking is being in haste. You don’t go and sit in a sofa. No, no, you’re here. You’re looking, you’re smelling, you’re wondering what the hell’s gonna happen. Every time, it’s the same thing. So I’m gonna put three eggs, just in case. Here we go, darling. Very softly, we place them in the water so they don’t crack. And they don’t have to be cold. If they come out of the fridge, they will crack, and part of it will go out, and you lose all the magic. So when I do the eggs for my children I get out of bed at 4:00, take the eggs out, and starting doing all the preparation. And as they wake up for breakfast, I start hitting the casserole with the eggs. It’s so delicious, so simple. There’s a beautiful story of this man for whom I worked in the ’80s, a French chef. His name was Raymond Thuilier. He was the mayor of a town in Provence called Les Baux. And he loved cooking since he was a child, and his father wanted him to be a lawyer, and he was very strict. So he became a lawyer, and he worked until he was 67. At 67, he says, “That’s enough.” So he closed his sort of office. And he knew all the great chefs of France then in the ’60s. And there was one called Fernand Point, who was an incredible, incredible chef. He was a heart of France in those days. And he went to work with him for three years as an apprenti, as a stage. And in the meantime, he was constructing a restaurant in his town, in Les Baux. And the restaurant was called Oustau de Baumaniere. And when he finished his three years there, he went back and he opened the restaurant. And he was in the history of France the chef who achieved faster the three stars of Michelin, which is sort of the crown for the French. So I think it’s a beautiful story because it shows you that it’s never late to start again. And that’s the most beautiful thing in life, that we start again and again, and we reinvent ourselves. Okay, off we go. So now we start the prep. This is very important, how you cut them. And that’s what I like, when they come out like that. Here you go, my love. Okay. I’m gonna take a little bit of the white to make space for the butter. Very important, the butter. And then I eat all this, always. So I put a little bit of salt, a bit of pepper, and a blob of butter on each. And I sink it so it melts. So basically, you eat the toast, and you put it in again, and at the end, you eat the whites. There we go. Oeufs a la coque.

About the Instructor

Francis Mallmann, the pioneer of open-fire cooking, is South America’s most famous chef and is known for his rustic open-fire cooking style in wild and remote locations. Join the James Beard award-winning author and Chef’s Table star as he brings you on a journey into his kitchen in the Patagonian wild where he teaches you how to master the grill and his Argentine-style barbecue.

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